Origins Of The Visual Arts Art Essay


In this dissertation, I will research the origins of visual expression, firstly asking why was it made, and who was it made for? I will then be looking for the earliest examples of where visual expression was found and then be moving onto how western art was developed and controlled though the early centuries in Europe. Then focusing on how one artist (Marcel Duchamp) chanced how institutions and art galleries could value art and lead the way for the future artists.

Finally, this will bring me onto look at the emergence of the YBA'S (Young British Artists) and the dynamics of their surroundings which would evidently lead to their success in the international art world, helped by the modern systems of mass media, written medias and public opinion.

In this, I will investigate the relationship between visual and modern day language mediums thought discourse, with an added envious on my own personal experience though the viewing of the art works in the exhibition at Liverpool Tate "Bad art for bad people" by Dino and Jake Chapman (13th December 2006 - 4th March 2007), also including another artist who was the forerunner of the YBA movement and who would later become the YBA pin up, Damien Hurst. I will look how Damien Hurst used the systems of the media, being, news papers, Magazine columns, visual media and mass audiences, to make his own unique stamp in the art world.

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I will look how the YBA'S became into the international limelight during the late 1980's and 1990's, helped with the guidance and backing of the advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, and his effect on the mass audience of the British public and aboard, making the YBA movement a success in the worldwide art scene.

The first chapter will look at the origins of art


Marcel Duchamp

To study how Marcel Duchamp's artistic practices gave such controversy though-out the art world, arising the nature of art itself and what we view, and value as art. I will study the work " The Fountain" (1917) and how it can be singled out as the bench mark for future contemporary art practice of today, firstly looking upon the history of Marcel Duchamp's life up to the point of his work " The fountains" creation and existence in 1917.

(3A) Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain 1917"

Marcel Duchamp was born into world, in 1913, the French writer Charles Peguy Remarked, "The world has changed less since the time of Jesus Christ than it has in the last thirty years." (18) He was speaking of all the conditions of western capitalist society: its ideas, its sense of history, its beliefs, modes of production, and its art.

Born on the 28th July 1887 in Blainville, near Rouen in France, He was the brother of Raymond Duchamp-Villon, the sculptor, and of Suzanne Duchamp, the poetess and also half- brother of Jacques Villon. He began to paint in 1908 and at the age of 22 Duchamp was a member of "The golden circle" a painter's circle, which included Metzinger, Leger, and Picabia, He was painting in the style of Cubism and futurism, which is shown his work "nude descending a staircase," painted in 1912. (19)

In 1913 Duchamp exhibited this work in the New York Armoury show, in which it was the much more ridiculed work at the show. In 1912 when he painted "Nude descending a staircase" Duchamp said, "that painting is washed up". (20) In abandoning painting, he said, "I want something where the eye counts for nothing." At this point the Duchampian revolution consists of the notion of the "ready-made". (20)

This term describes common objects with or without modification that were relocated in museums and galleries. The term "objet trouve" first was first recorded in a letter to his sister Susanne Duchamp in 1913. (21)

The earliest readymade of Duchamp's was the Bicycle wheel of 1913. This consisted of a bicycle wheel fixed onto a wooden stool. These readymades ojects were mass produced objects with common uses such as snow shovels and bottle racks which Duchamp would then sign. He would give the objects names that were totally irrelevant for their practical use.

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In 1915, Duchamp went to the USA for the first time. (22) The USA now better developed than Europe in technology, communications and now had the tallest building in the world. Soon, Duchamp settled and became the centre of a group of painters round the "Stieglitz" gallery in which the group adopted the "anti-art" attitude as with Zurich Dadaism. (23)

In 1917, Duchamp sent his mass- produced urinal, (readymade) called "fountain" to New York, (where the first show for the society of independent artist was held. Simply called "independent show", (24) signed with the name "R.Mutt", it was nothing but a common urinal. The work that was signed with a false name and exhibited on its back became centre to an unrealistic approach and was pulled out of the exhibition. The theory behind the readymade explained in an article, anonymous but believed to be by Duchamp himself in defence to his alter-ego, Mr Mutt, In the May 1917 issue of the avent- garde magazine " The Blind Man", run by Duchamp and his two friends, printed this text.

"Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He chose it. He took an ordinary article of life, and placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view-created a new thought for that object. "There are three important points here: First that the choice of the object is itself creative act. Secondly, that by cancelling the "useful" function of an object it becomes art. Thirdly, that the presentation and addition of the object have given it "a new thought", a new meaning" (25).

Duchamp's readymade also asserted the principle that, art is defined by the artist. The idea of art is made in the artists mind as a concept for their personal perspective of how their world is interpreted. This is true for every person, as everyone can think of ways an object means more than its physical form. This is also true of objects that have sentimental value. In any place the owner has the object in owe of what it represents regard of its space. As objects of no meaning are only then represented by the space the object inhabits.

Marcel Duchamp gave the world a diverse outlook on the way art and the object could be perceived and portrayed in society, therefore leaving the door of the art world and its individuals open to create and develop concepts and ideas of art, which left the old institutions and practices to be questioned and revaluated.

From abstract expression to the YBA'S, Marcel Duchamp's Fountain can be seen as a turning point in the ideas of where art can take the artists and the viewer. This can be seen none more so than the young graduate group of British artists of the late 1980's to take the international art world by storm, they were later to be known as the YBA'S.

Duchamp's single act of artistic expression changed the way we could view art but to explain this he had to enforce it with words. Discourse and written language had more importance now rather than just the documentation of visual art and its history. Written language now became a factor in which works of art were viewed, and with the evolution of the tabloids and the mass media would become intertwined feeding off each other for publicity, good or bad.