H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition
The Toronto Exhibition As A Conceptual Art Work?
In a recent article, Milroy meditates on her role as an art critic, faced with wide-spread intolerance towards Modern Art:
Who knows what makes visual art so hard for people to
cope with? For whatever reason, it seems to be pilloried more in the
public domain than other art forms. As an art critic, you are mindful of
The gulf between the two has never been greater. More
than any other discipline, the visual arts have sequestered themselves
behind a wall of specialized language that leaves even literate and
educated members of the public reaching for the Tylenol. One could argue
that the visual-arts community is now reaping what it has sown; giant gaps
in understanding have yawned. Take the whole notion of technical, manual
proficiency as the leading criterion of artistic mastery, for example.
It's been an outmoded notion at least since Duchamp's famous designation
of the urinal as art back in 1917, yet it still complicates and muddies
the public's ability to appreciate contemporary art and its new languages,
which often draw from life in direct or transgressive ways.
The rupture is obvious. Milroy discards "the whole notion of technical, manual proficiency as the leading criterion of artistic mastery" as "outmoded", yes, even muddying and complicating "the public's ability to appreciate contemporary art and its new languages". So what to think of Milroy´s September article now, rejecting the exhibited Rodin foundry plasters as industrial products, lacking the manual touch of the Master himself? Outmoded? Muddying and complicating the public´s ability to appreciate one of the Fathers of Modernism?
Was Marcel Duchamp´s urinal ever something else than an
industrial product? What makes Duchamp´s "designation of the urinal
as art" in 1917 "famous", while William Moore´s
designation of the Rudier foundry plasters as art in 2001 provokes
Would it change anything if we know William Moore has
been a conceptual artist before he became a Museum Director, and Marcel
Duchamp despised the professional artist role?
If the amateur-artist Duchamp could send his industrial urinal, signed "R. Mutt", to New York and have this industrial piece of porcelain celebrated as art, why should the former conceptual artist Moore not send a modern, industrial foundry plaster, signed "A. Rodin" to Toronto and have it celebrated as art as well? We all know Moore did not make those plasters and that is name is not "A. Rodin". But Duchamp did not make the urinal either and his name was not R. Mutt (or Mott) either. Mott was the name of the New York plumbing store where Duchamp claimed to have acquired the urinal. As a matter of fact, the type of urinal Duchamp exhibited in 1917 never was listed in the Mott plumbing catalogs, so that the physical origin of the famous Fountain still is a mystery (see Shearer) - pretty much like the origin of the Maclaren plasters....
What is the difference between the cases, and if there is one, how does it affect the value of the MacLaren plasters and what consequences should it have for the entrance fee of the exhibition?
To examine the questions of originality, meaning and value from a fresh, contemporary perspective, you are invited to join me on an EXCURSION to New York, London, Chicago and Munich, see some Modern Art and meet the winners of the Turner Prize.
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