One of the jewels of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University’s collection is a complete set of the 1964 edition of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades. Duchamp was a French artist who was associated with the Dada movement, which sought to redefine traditional artistic practices. During World War I, Duchamp moved to New York City, where he became a central figure in that city’s artistic community. Duchamp’s major contribution to Dada—and to modern art more generally—were the Readymades, mass-produced objects that he presented as works of art. Duchamp undermined the original functionality of the objects through slight alterations or by installing them in an unusual way. By emphasizing an intellectual approach to art over craftmanship or stylistic expressivity, Duchamp posed a serious challenge to long-accepted definitions of art. His radical thinking of artistic practice inspired the development of conceptual art and the use of nontraditional materials within the realm of fine art.
The year 2017 marks the centennial of Fountain, the most famous—and notorious—Readymade. One hundred years ago, in April 1917, the Society of Independent Artists in New York refused to display Fountain—a urinal turned on its back and signed “R. Mutt”—in its annual exhibition. Because Fountain and many other original Readymades were lost not long after their creation, Duchamp and the Milan gallerist Arturo Schwartz decided to produce a replica edition of these works in 1964. The reproduction of the Readymades acknowledged their significance to the development of modern art. The Eskenazi Museum of Art is one of only three museums worldwide that holds all thirteen Readymades reproduced in the 1964 edition. The installation Fountain at 100 celebrates the Readymades, with special emphasis on Fountain, on view in the museum’s first floor Gallery of Art of the Western World from January 24 through May 7, 2017. Works by artists inspired by Duchamp—Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, and Lucas Samaras—will also be on view. We hope you take this opportunity to visit and see Duchamp’s Readymades in person for yourself.
The Eskenazi Museum of Art will also be hosting a free Noon Talk on February 15, 2017 from 12:15-1:00 p.m. entitled “Out of the Box: The Legacy of the Readymade,” presented in conjunction with Fountain at 100. Andrew Wang, graduate assistant for European and American art, will discuss the influence of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades on Jospeh Cornell, Louise Nevelson, and Lucas Samaras. This Noon Talk will take place in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World, first floor, and is free and open to the public. No prior reservation is necessary to attend.
Please visit the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Website for gallery hours and more information on visiting the museum. Admission at the Eskenazi Museum of Art is always FREE.
After attending the Noon Talk Spirit, Love, Healing Power: Renée Stout, I got a chance to learn more about Renée Stout’s photographs that are now hanging in the Gallery of Western Art and her perspective behind them. In her works, Stout addresses three main themes: self-definition, use of cultural resources, and resistance to the status quo. Although this is the framework that guides her, after the discussion and critique of her work, I walked away feeling that it was difficult to so cleanly define her artistic approach and product. I have tried to synthesize today’s Noon Talk but I left with more questions than answers. However, I think it is Stout’s goal to leave the audience with unanswered questions. Stout’s photography shows that the journey to a clear answer never ends and this eternal search is echoed throughout her body of work.
Growing up, Renée Stout was greatly shaped by the influences of her African and Creole roots as well as by her more contemporary ancestors. About every ten years, as a retrospective on herself, Stout returns to these roots. Tracking and exploring her evolution through her alias Fatima Mayfield, Stout is able to navigate through and analyze her evolution from a comfortable distance. Through the depiction of her nude self on film, Stout documents her path to empowerment simultaneously shifting her identity in time and space.
Stout’s works are not simply photographs, but they are transforming self-portraits. Beginning her journey young with expectation and waiting, she moves on to expose herself and her vulnerabilities with age. But with such exposure comes disappointment, life leaving its mark on her physical and spiritual presence. Though this pain and anguish is depicted, there is still more to her story. This hurt becomes a source of triumph as Stout has learned from her past and the past of her ancestors, morphing her into the woman she is today. The fragmented pieces that have made up her being come together to create a whole, providing answers to her existence. Though, as her works illustrate, the search for resolution will never truly end.
Our final Noon Talk of the semester was yesterday, May 2nd, from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. in the first floor Art of the Western World gallery. History of Art Professor Janet Kennedy spoke to a crowd of over 45 attendees(!) about a set of four drawings, received by the museum in a recent bequest, by Russian-born theatrical designer and painter Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957).
Above, our Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator for Works on Paper, Nan Brewer, introduces Dr. Kennedy.
These works highlight some consistent themes throughout Tchelitchew’s work, specifically the human body integrated with nature.
Look at that amazing turnout!
Tchelitchew is most well-known for a particular painting owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, called Hide and Seek. After the MoMA acquired the painting in 1942 and put it on display in the 3rd floor lobby, it was a magnet for viewers for around 5 decades. Unfortunately, it was moved to storage after renovations in the early 2000s.
I spy a Swing Landscape…
Professor Kennedy is retiring from the History of Art department this spring after many years of dedicated service to her field, the IU student body, and the Bloomington community. We are thrilled that she agreed to give this talk, and the turnout was outstanding, a testament to her positive, far-reaching influence here at IU. Thank you for everything, Dr. Kennedy!