Rhett Gérard Poché

A blog devoted to the study of art, art history, and visual literacy.

Why are you L.H.O.O.Q-ing at me like that?

In conjunction with a lecture titled, “What is Art?/Is it Art?,” my Visual Literacy students will be discussing the readymades of Marcel Duchamp.  They will also be making their own readymades and blogging about their projects—Holy Cross College Visual Literacy Blog Project.

While I fully expect a classroom full of open eyes and minds, I know this will be the first time many of my students, especially the non-art majors, will ever see Duchamp’s work.  I also know that introductions to Duchamp can be a bit challenging, to say the least.  In response to Duchamp’s readymades, I often receive comments like:

“That dude made art out of a TOILET!”

“If I doodle on a picture of Mona Lisa, does that make me an artist too?”

“Poché, are you serious?”

Yes, I’m totally serious.

Duchamp’s readymades tend to activate certain biases that favor more “traditional” art.  Many students attempt to disregard Duchamp by summoning visions of Van Gogh, Picasso, and—sigh—Thomas Kinkade.  They were “real” artists…right?  They made art about things people actually care about.  More importantly, their works of art were handmade.  Anyone can turn a urinal upside down and call it art—NO SKILL REQUIRED!…right?

Like I said, challenging, to say the least.

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

Image courtesy of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

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Filed under: Visual Literacy

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