The Triumph of Anti-Art: Chapter 1 & 2

Kant, Duchamp, and Dada: The Background

Anti (prefix): “opposite, against” along with “in exchange, instead.”

In order to create work that is against painting or against art, you have to understand what has previously been defined as painting and art.

I agree entirely with Duchamp’s proposition that taste is a habit and “the repetition of something already accepted.” Labeling and categorization is a way compartmentalizing large quantities of information. For myself as an artist, these categories of taste and even Cubism and Futurism, as Duchamp resented, pose levels of limitation on the future creation of work.

“The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art, but those of a disgust”

-Tristan Tzara

“’Neither our perceptions nor our opinions are either true or false.’ Language in other words, is simply irrelevant to claims of truth.”

Duchamp declared that he wanted “to put painting once again at the service of the mind”

And thus the beginning of conceptual art, and as mentioned in the text, also performance art.

Out of the Ashes: The Twentieth Century as Syllogism

My immediate reaction to this chapter is simply relief for living here as an artist in the post-modern world. I agree with Yves Klein, in that this age of art represents “freedom from devision, from aesthetic habit, and from tradition.” Like many of the artists involved in anti-art or anti-painter movements, my work has always been about rejecting traditional painterly values, mostly based I suppose on my own dislike of limitations and categories. It’s interesting to read about and think about the mindset of the artists during the Modernist movement; the culture of art being so far removed from everyday life. I often find myself having difficulty reading about certain philosophies behind “high art” and “outsider art” and all the other compartments. I hope to continue to push the limit of the categories of painting, fibers, sculpture, etc. and explore some of Duchamp’s ideas of returning art to “the service of the mind” and the work being interactive, in a sense being “completed by the audience.”

All content sighted is derived from The Triumph of Anti-Art: Conceptual and Performance Art in the Formation of Post-Modernism by Thomas McEvilley


By klcloonan

Los Angeles Interdisciplinary Artist

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