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ready-made


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A name given by Marcel Duchamp to a type of work he invented consisting of a mass-produced article isolated from its functional context and displayed as a work of art. His first ready-made (1913) was a bicycle wheel, which he mounted on a kitchen stool. Strictly speaking, this was a ‘ready-made assisted’, but other ‘pure’ ready-mades soon followed, notably Bottle Rack (1914), In Advance of the Broken Arm (a snow shovel, 1915), and the celebrated Fountain (1917), consisting of a urinal which he signed ‘R. Mutt’ (the name of a firm manufacturing sanitary ware); most of the originals have disappeared, but several replicas exist. The ready-made can be considered a type of objet trouvé (found object), although Duchamp himself made a clear distinction between them, pointing out that whereas the objet trouvé is discovered and chosen because of its interesting aesthetic qualities, its beauty and uniqueness, the ready-made is one—any one—of a large number of indistinguishable mass-produced objects. Therefore the objet trouvé implies the exercise of taste in its selection, but the ready-made does not. In creating such works he demonstrated his belief in the absurdity of life and aesthetic values. The ready-made was one of Dada's most enduring legacies to modern art. It was much used in Pop art, for example, and Robert Rauschenberg called Bicycle Wheel ‘one of the most beautiful pieces of sculpture I've ever seen’.

Subjects: Art.


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