Meaning in the Art of Duchamp (Part I)

DUCHAMP’S WORK IS AS RESISTANT to a strict iconographical analysis as it is to appreciation on the level of abstract form. The “Readymades” demonstrate most succinctly the misdirected nature of an interpretation limited entirely to the vocabulary of perceptual formalism (although by means of iconic affinity and similarity of execution, the lesson of the “Readymades” extends to all his work except the early Impressionist and Fauvist paintings). The iconographical project of a one-to-one mapping of conceptual symbols onto arbitrarily determined plastic units of Duchamp’s various pieces falls under a like suspicion. The type of intellectual bricolage indulged in by both Arturo Schwarz and Jack Burnham borders on a subjective autonomy which threatens to lose all contact with the work at hand. This is especially the case in Schwarz’ attempt to construct almost ex nihilo a psychological myth of

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