8 Quotes By Marcel Duchamp

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Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, but his contribution to the Western world existed outside of art, in my opinion. He was a proponent of the art of living, and gave up most of his artistic practice in favor of finding a way to live fully in the present. He was a Zen master of sorts, navigating the world in a way detached from popular opinion or even common sense. He was an intellectual in the true sense of the word, experimenting and finding his own way of doing things, not for money or fame, but for his own sense of pure being. I recently read Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews. It’s a great insight into Duchamp’s thought process. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book: 

From the intro:

“I remember asking him, “Since you’ve stopped making art, how do you spend your time?” And he said, “Oh, I’m a breather, I’m a respirateur, isn’t that enough?” He asked, “Why do people have to work? Why do people think they have to work?” He talked about how important it was to really breathe, to live life at a different tempo and a different scale from the way most of us live.”

From Duchamp himself:

“I never put taste in my life. Taste is an experience that I try not to let come into my life. Bad, good, or indifferent, it doesn’t come in. I’m so against interior decorators.”

“There should not be any competition. I mean there is nothing to compete for except the money. It’s just a form of disguised envy, don’t you think?”

“I think there’s an element in the slowness of the execution that adds to the possibility of producing something that will be durable in its expression, that will be considered important five centuries later.”

“To do something of your own you’ve got to forget what you’ve learned. And once you begin forgetting, you’re bound to find something…else.”

“Chance is the only way to avoid the control of the rational.”

“Anything systematized becomes sterile very soon. There is nothing that has eternal value.”

“The words you use making fun or making judgments have absolutely no value. They are just taunts, a pack of words.”

More of The Afternoon Interviews.