I developed a new undergraduate seminar entitled “Duchamp’s Objects: Matter and Modernity” that I will be teaching at the University of Pennsylvania History of Art Department in Fall 2017. Description below:
In 1913, Marcel Duchamp posed a nebulous question central to much of the art of the twentieth century. Then a young painter working in Paris, he wrote in a private note: “Is it possible to make ‘works’ that are not ‘of art’?” What are the possibilities of “making” in a modern world that has alienated labor from its products and commodified the work of art? What is the artist’s role amidst forces of rapid industrialization, mechanization, and automation? Duchamp would continuously explore these questions in a career that stretched into the 1960s, pushing painting, sculpture, and film in new directions through the use of objects not traditionally associated with art—a porcelain urinal, a collection of settled dust, a tuft of human hair. This course examines issues of materiality and media in Duchamp’s art and in modernism more broadly. Meetings will include visits to the Duchamp collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Readings will draw from art history, literature, and social and political theory.