In Search of Duchamp... (Part 2)

Apr 1, 2013 5:54AM

For many galleries, the 2013 Armory Show was just another art fair, another year—and fiscally speaking, maybe not a particularly good one. The New York Armory Show of 1913 marked a sea change in the American art world. New, experimental, European art concepts were released into the American collective consciousness, under a very public banner. A condensed version of the Armory Show travelled to Boston and Chicago that year, vastly increasing the number of viewers who could see the exhibition. 100 years later, the Armory Show still serves to bring art to the masses. Some 60,000 people attended the Armory Show, and has managed to put much of the 2013 Armory Show on the internet.

The most notable artist from the 1913 show was our good friend, Marcel Duchamp. While connections to Duchamp's influence could be made in nearly any art fair booth in 2013, a select group of galleries chose to celebrate his legacy directly. Francis M Naumann titled his exhibition Nude Descending a Staircase: An HomageAll the works represented by Naumann at the 2013 Armory Show directly referenced Duchamp, and many of the pieces were created especially for this exhibit. Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei requested one of his ceramic pieces be paired with a Duchamp collage, in hopes that the two works from different periods could be sold together. (They were.)

Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde had a darkened gallery space as their Armory presentation, with flashlights hung neatly outside their booth. Audiences were given flashlights and invited to explore the artworks. This was a direct reference to the1938 Exposition International du Surréalisme, Paris (International Surrealism Exhibition)—part of which was in the dark. This 1938 show is a later example of Duchamp and his crew, charting new territory for the art world. 

Chowaiki & Co created pairings of Duchamp / Not Duchamp works as their 2013 feature, including cover art for a 2003 album, titled Dude Descending a Staircase, by Anthony AusgangOther relics included an original postcard from the 1913 Armory Show, a photo of Duchamp dressed as his female alter ego, Rrose Sélavy, and a saucy Duchamp original, (Please Touch: the Catalog to the International Surrealism Exhibition).

Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts & Moderna Museet were hosted specially by the Armory Show this year. A distilled version of their 2011 exhibition, Posterity Will Have A Word To Say, this room at the 2013 Armory Show featured readymades by Duchamp and his follower, Ulf Linde. Linde made reproduction Duchamp readymades, which Duchamp would approve and sometimes sign. In 2013, these pieces were not on display for sale, as is the custom at art fairs. Instead, ribbon netting separated the audience from the art. This was also a reference to the 1938 International Surrealism Exhibition, which had string set up as obstacles to the gallery-goer. 

Up next Part 3 of the series: READYMADES at this year's Armory Show.