But it was a series of four profiles he wrote for The New Yorker in the early s — on Jean Tinguely, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Duchamp — that fully revealed to him the exciting possibilities of art. This was so powerful, that art could be all these other things. I thought we might start where it all started for you: with Duchamp. In what ways do you see his continuing influence today? As the grandfather of what came to be known as Conceptual art, his idea that art was not solely and exclusively a visual thing has permeated the atmosphere. I think that largely goes back to Duchamp.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Duchamp by Calvin Tomkins. Duchamp by Calvin Tomkins. One of the giants of the twentieth century, Marcel Duchamp changed the course of modern art.

Visual arts, music, dance, performance--nothing was ever the same again because he had shifted art's focus from the retinal to the mental. Duchamp sidestepped the banal and sentimental to find the relationship between symbol and object and to unearth the concepts underlying art itself.

The author's intimacy with the subject and glorious prose style, wit, and deep sense of irony--"the only antidote to despair"--make him the perfect writer to bring this stunning life story to intelligent readers everywhere. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.

Published March 15th by Holt Paperbacks first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Duchamp , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters.

Sort order. Start your review of Duchamp. Nov 25, Frank McAdam rated it it was amazing Shelves: art-photography.

No book in a long while has made me think as deeply about art as has Calvin Tomkins' excellent biography of Marcel Duchamp. Long before the end, it becomes apparent that it was Duchamp, not Picasso, who was the great artistic influence of the 20th century.

Duchamp's constant refusal to see art as "retinal" and his insistence that any object made by anyone could be a work of art, made him a leading figure of movements as diverse as Surrealism and Pop.

He had personal acquaintance with every impor No book in a long while has made me think as deeply about art as has Calvin Tomkins' excellent biography of Marcel Duchamp. He had personal acquaintance with every important artist of the century and was a subversive influence on them all. Calvin Tomkins is simply a great writer. One of Tomkins's greatest strengths is to bring to life not only the subjects of his biographies but also those, famous or not, with whom they interacted. In Duchamp, Tomkins has found a biographer's greatest challenge -- a subject of such wide ranging intellect that the biographer must himself possess great intelligence and imagination in order to grasp the implications of the ideas which he's outlining.

A biographer also has to have an above average sense of humor to bring out the humanity in Duchamp. My favorite part is when the elder Duchamp attends a lecture about himself that accuses him of incestuous feelings toward his sister. The lecture is given by Arturo Schwarz, a scholar obsessed with reading occult meanings into Duchamp's work. Afterwards, Duchamp meets Schwarz and simply says, "I couldn't hear a word, but I enjoyed it very much. I can't speak to any of these concerns as this is the first book about Duchamp I have read.

What I can say is that as someone who had a slim but strong appreciation for Duchamp's work and knew almost nothing of his life and personality, I found this book to be readable, interesting, and insightful. I understand much more than I did before. Tompkins writes well and has a knack for well-chosen details, many of which are quite funny this biography only strengthened my feeling that Duchamp's work is frequently hilarious.

I found myself sharing anecdotes and tidbits with friends nearly every day. I looked at several other books about Duchamp before choosing this one. Many of the other titles were "thesisy" smacking of academia and I thought this popular biography would be a better place for a laymen to start.

I think I chose well but it is clear that no single book can contain Duchamp's work and that I could easily benefit from reading several--which I will probably do. Tompkins provided exactly what I wanted: a way in. View 1 comment. Mar 15, Maya Man rated it it was amazing Shelves: one-year-of-art-design-books. Tomkins is a crafty writer he kept it interesting. Now I am in Philadelphia because I want to see all the Duchamp stuff it's museum of art has and also I am visiting Laura I decided to pull out all of my pulls on the bus but jeez didn't realize there would be so many.

On the large glass: "Duchamp thought it should be approached as a mixture of verbal and visual concepts" 4. On new cubist techniques of Picasso and Braque: "the picture was no longer a window to look through but an object in itself" Mallarme's famous phrase, "to paint not the thing itself, but the effect that it produces" After in Munich for Duchamp: "The whole notion of artist sensibility as the guiding creative principle simply disappeared from his approach, to be replaced by First readymade!

Accidentally the Bicycle Wheel in Duchamp on America's future as a center for art: "New York itself is a work of art, a complete work of art Personally I must say I admire the attitude of combatting invasion with folded arms" On Man Ray's object sculptures: they "made their point at first glance, but did not reverberate in the mind" - Tomkins In Henri-Pierre Roche's novel: "To remain yourself while loving.

Not to take up residence in someone else Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view--created a new thought for that object" He won the First International Chess by Correspindence Olympiad, which took four years to complete Since the only art that interested in was idea art On Nude Descending a Staircase: it was not really a painting but "an organization of time and space through the abstract expression of motion" I LOVE.

Words were suspect, he felt, because they tended to take on a life of their own For Duchamp it was very clear that a work of art was incomplete until it had been seen and thought about by one or more spectators--there coould be no such thing as an unknown masterpiece Duchamp proposes the work of art as an independent creation, brought into being in a joint effort by the artist, the spectator, and the unpredictable actions of chance--a free creation that, by it's very nature, may be more complex, more interesting, more original, and truer to life than a work that is subject to the limitations of the artist's personal control On not painting: "I became a non-artist, not an anti-artist" Jasper Johns on The Large Glass: "it involves you with yourself and with the room you're in, and it seems to require a kind of alertness on your part.

It's not just something you look at," As Duchamp would say on another occasion, the book was not about him-it was by Schwarz Duchamp wrote his own epitaph: "Besides, it is always the others who die" May 02, Chris Browning rated it it was amazing. In the excellent Ruth Brandon book on the surrealists, Marcel Duchamp hovers like a spectre over the action just occasionally shimmying into full view with an idea or concept that has probably the most influence on the thinking of the movements of Dada and surrealism.

But he is hard to pin down, a phantom that Andre Breton desperately wants to cling to but never quite does Duchamp is still pretty hard to read after reading this wonderful book. He feels like a sort of blur of an artist, almost co In the excellent Ruth Brandon book on the surrealists, Marcel Duchamp hovers like a spectre over the action just occasionally shimmying into full view with an idea or concept that has probably the most influence on the thinking of the movements of Dada and surrealism.

Tomkins sort of suggests that his expertise in art almost comes from Duchamp himself, after a rather touching interview he relates towards the end of the book. Nov 18, Danica rated it really liked it. I'm taking a class on Duchamp right now and this effortlessly readable biography has been such a fun companion to the more theoretical things I've been assigned. Seems pretty exhaustively researched, is humorous and entertaining, and is also great at discussing the various main interpretations of Duchamp's work and legacy.

Sep 17, Kevin McDonagh rated it it was amazing Shelves: art. The authoritative Biography on the original "non-artist". Until the very end, Dandyish Duchamp was determined to live a life of full of fun and optimism. His antics are awe inspiring as they are heart warming. Oct 30, SL rated it it was amazing.


Calvin Tomkins

In addition to the photos of the famed artist from his book that were on display, there were also framed shots of Duchamp playing chess in the seemingly untouched West 10th Street space. And Tomkins merely had to look out the window to see the brownstone Duchamp lived in and where the interviews were conducted. Forty-four years after their first conversation, Tomkins said what still stands out about Duchamp was his complicated nature. He was the unusual combination of being very relaxed and easy, and ready to talk about anything on any level.


Book gathers 1964 interviews with Duchamp by Calvin Tomkins


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