Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910-1941 (October Books)

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9780262100670: Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910-1941 (October Books)

There is not one Marcel Duchamp, but several. Within his oeuvre Duchamp practiced a variety of modernist idioms and invented an array of contradictory personas: artist and art dealer, conceptualist and craftsman, chess champion and dreamer, dandy and recluse.

In Infinite Regress, David Joselit considers the plurality of identities and practices within Duchamp's life and art between 1910 and 1941, conducting a synthetic reading of his early and middle career. Taking into account underacknowledged works and focusing on the conjunction of the machine and the commodity in Duchamp's art, Joselit notes a consistent opposition between the material world and various forms of measurement, inscription, and quantification. Challenging conventional accounts, he describes the readymade strategy not merely as a rejection of painting, but as a means of producing new models of the modern self.

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About the Author:

David Joselit is Professor and Chair of the Department of the History of Art at Yale University and the author of Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910-1941 (MIT Press, 1998) and American Art Since 1945.

From Library Journal:

Two art historians contribute these most recent additions to the greatly expanding library of Duchamp literature. The more far-reaching of the two is Joselit (Univ. of California, Irvine), who ambitiously attempts to find a "center" for Duchamp's multifarious oeuvre. No other artist of such great influence and importance produced a body of work that is so complex (so constantly turning in on itself), and Joselit feels scholars have too often focused only on one theme, period, or medium. Simply put, Joselit argues that Duchamp's transformations are that center and are "organized around a consistent dynamic or interplay between materiality and its measure or the body and its (self) identification." Along the way he does touch on virtually all periods; his analysis of Duchamp's often neglected linguistic readymades is especially fresh and elucidating. Joselit makes good use of a good deal of recent scholarship, but most of all his achievement is tying a string around Duchamp's plurality. By contrast, Henderson (Univ. of Texas at Austin) focuses on a specific theme, albeit one that Duchamp himself found endlessly fascinating. The author of The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (1975), she seems particularly well qualified to examine how the discussions and discoveries of the early 20th centuryAfrom X-rays, wave theory, and optics to notions of the fourth dimensionAaffected Duchamp's art. While not the first to touch on these matters, Henderson rightly argues that too many previous scholars have ignored the humor in the artist's relation to "playful physics." She also makes use of all the notes on the large glass (including those posthumously published) and brings a broad understanding of turn-of-the-century science to the work. Joselit's work belongs in all art and academic libraries; Henderson deserves a place in larger academic art or history of science collections.ADouglas McClemont, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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