Saturday, 14 June 2014
On Why Duchamp Was Not A Dadaist
People often say that Duchamp was a Dadaist. He was not. He was already in New York in 1916 when Dadaism was being invented in Zurich, and by then had already completed many of the works that later got him associated with the Dadaist movement. He moved on the periphery of the movement and by his own testament had little to do with it. He once said of Dadaism that it "was parallel, if you wish" (in Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp). He made no attempt to ‘be a Dadaist’ when he moved back to Europe after World War I.
Duchamp also did not embrace the ‘pure meaninglessness’ of Dada. Dada was intended make thinking irrelevant by making it impossible. Duchamp’s work is intended to make the spectator think.