Incidental and Integral Beauty: Duchamp, Danto and the Intractable Avant-Garde

Gaiger, Jason (2009). Incidental and Integral Beauty: Duchamp, Danto and the Intractable Avant-Garde. In: Beech, Dave ed. Beauty. Documents of Contemporary Art. London and Cambridge ,Massachusetts: Whitechapel Gallery and the MIT Press, pp. 119–125.

Abstract

Arthur Danto has argued that the radical avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century abjured beauty, thereby effecting a decisive break with the art of the past. Duchamp is accorded a leading role in this process insofar as he rejected the satisfactions of ‘retinal pleasure’ in favour of an art of ideas. This paper shows that although it is a mistake to assimilate the Readymades to traditional models of aesthetic appreciation, the physical properties of Duchamp’s chosen objects remain ‘integral’ to their meaning as works of art, which resides at least in part in the conflict or dissonance between their appearance and their artworld status.

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