Marking the centenary of Duchamp's readymade, The Fine Art Society was proud to present a major group exhibition What Marcel Duchamp Taught Me. It was the largest show in the history of the gallery, taking over the entire five floors of the Bond Street townhouse as over 50 Contemporary artists responded to Duchamp and his legacy. The readymade is a concept that challenged the very notion of art itself. As a result of this gesture, anything could be art if the artist chose it.
Duchamp's impact not just as an artist but also as a great thinker and writer, is incalculable. His afterlife is undoubtedly phenomenal and his legacy is a subject continually discussed by art historians and critics. Yet it is so deeply embedded in the practice of art that it is hard to pin down. So instead The Fine Art Society has asked artists to respond directly and personally. Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) is a multifaceted figure who still looms large over contemporary art. Duchamp is worshipped by some and condemned by others - either way there is no disputing that he is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
Duchamp derided the adoration of art and all canons of taste and categorisation. He said once, "I force myself to contradict myself so as to avoid conforming to my own taste". In 1913 he set in motion one of the single most influential and significant ideas in modern art. Alone in his studio he created his first readymade by selecting and presenting a found object, Bicycle Wheel. He would not show the work for another year - the first pure readymade is dated to the 1914 Bottle Rack.
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