Readymades By Child, Danielle
In 1916, the French artist Marcel Duchamp coined the term “readymade” to describe a body of his own work in which everyday and often mass-produced objects were given the status of a work of art with little or no intervention by the artist beyond signing and displaying them. He began to produce these works in Paris, beginning with Bottle Rack (1914) and Bicycle Wheel (1913). (Duchamp, however, did not explicitly acknowledge these works until his move to New York in 1915.) These two works present examples of the two distinct types of readymades: readymade unaided and readymade aided. The most well-known readymade is Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), which was famously refused entry into an exhibition with no entry conditions. Much later, Fountain became symbolic of the emergent shift from modernism to postmodernism in the 1960s, with the group of artists who gathered around the composer John Cage, including Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, sometimes referred to as the neo-avant-garde. It was during this period that Duchamp’s account of the function of the readymade was consolidated into the now common understanding, which is that “readymade” constitutes an object chosen by an artist and declared to be art.