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Duchamp and the Aesthetics of Chance Art as Experiment by Herbert Molderings

Duchamp and the Aesthetics of Chance Art as Experiment

Part of the Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts Series
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Duchamp and the Aesthetics of Chance Art as Experiment by Herbert Molderings

Marcel Duchamp is often viewed as an artist-engineer-scientist, a kind of rationalist who relied heavily on the ideas of the French mathematician and philosopher Henri Poincare. Yet a complete portrait of Duchamp and his multiple influences draws a different picture. In his 3 Standard Stoppages (1913-1914), a work that uses chance as an artistic medium, we see how far Duchamp subverted scientism in favor of a radical individualistic aesthetic and experimental vision. Unlike the Dadaists, Duchamp did more than dismiss or negate the authority of science. He pushed scientific rationalism to the point where its claims broke down and alternative truths were allowed to emerge. With humor and irony, Duchamp undertook a method of artistic research, reflection, and visual thought that focused less on beauty than on the notion of the possible. He became a passionate advocate of the power of invention and thinking things that had never been thought before. The 3 Standard Stoppages is the ultimate realization of the play between chance and dimension, visibility and invisibility, high and low art, and art and anti-art. Situating Duchamp firmly within the literature and philosophy of his time, Herbert Molderings recaptures the spirit of a frequently misread artist-and his thrilling aesthetic of chance.


...charming, erudite, and academically thorough volume... Cerise Press

About the Author

Herbert Molderings is a freelance scholar and professor of art history at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. The author of eleven books, he specializes in the history of modern and contemporary art, European photography of the twentieth century, and the works of Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Umbo. Molderings is a former fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and a former director of a research program at the Centre allemand d'histoire de l'art in Paris. He divides his time beween Cologne and Paris. John Brogden lives in Dortmund, Germany, and specializes in the translation of art historical subjects.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th May 2010


Herbert Molderings

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Columbia University Press


240 pages


Philosophy: aesthetics
History of art & design styles: from c 1900 -



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