The art of provoking the art world
01-09-06 Seleccionado por: Arty Show
With just a handful of “ready-made” works, Marcel Duchamp turned a new page in Art History. These rare and emblematic pieces occasionally surface in UK and American auction rooms.
Monita ad tirones ( take care with the axe eugene¡¡¡)
Just for sale... and cheap
Marcel DUCHAMP liberated Art from its art and crafts tradition and from technical virtuosity by inventing the principle of the ready-made. At an exhibition of aeronautical technology in 1912 Duchamp was struck by the formal perfection of a propeller and by the relative incapacity of paintings to capture such perfection. Thereafter his artistic curiosity turned towards manufactured – "already made" - objects. At the hands of Duchamp, industrial objects were stripped of their primary utilitarian function and transformed by his artistic choice into works of Art, thereby reflecting Leonardo da Vinci's old adage that art is essentially a cosa mentale (a mental thing).
Of French nationality, Marcel Duchamp chose to live in the United States and the UK/US markets partly reflects this choice by generating 90% of sales revenue on only 50% of total transactions. Duchamp began his artistic career in France and exhibited his first ready-made in New York - the famous Fountain urinal - that was refused by the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. The French market nevertheless hosts 40% of the total number of sales of the artist's works which come up for sale on a regular basis.
Marcel Duchamp began his career as a painter, but most of his paintings are already on museum walls. To obtain one of his pieces, art buyers have to look elsewhere – essentially sculptures, drawings, photos and prints. For example, the work Prière de toucher, created for the cover of the catalogue Le Surréalisme in 1947, was offered for sale on 16 May 2002 at Neumeister (Munich) for EUR 8,000, but did not find a buyer. His Rotoreliefs are even more affordable. These are cardboard disks with printed spirals that produce a kind of optical illusion. On 6 June last, the series of Rotoreliefs (a total of 100 were printed) sold for EUR 5,866 at Artcurial in Paris, whereas the same series had previously changed hands several times for as much as EUR 10,000 (9 May 2006 at Blindhouse Casa d’Arte in Naples, and 6 October 2005 at Sotheby’s in Paris). In the spirit of the ready-mades, the Bouche-évier, cast in bronze in 1964, and also produced in a series of 100, generally sells for between 3 and 5 thousand euros. At Christie's Amsterdam showroom, one sold for EUR 4,200 in 30 May of this year. These small 3-dimensional pieces are often less expensive than a lot of Duchamp's prints. In fact, a 1964 etching entitled Un robinet original révolutionnaire, from which 100 proofs have also been printed, sold for EUR 5,800 at Sotheby’s Paris on 6 July 2006.
The original ready-mades have practically all disappeared. Either lost or broken during the artist's lifetime Duchamp decided to reproduce some of his works. In 1964 he accepted a proposition from Arturo Schwartz to reproduce 8 copies of 13 ready-mades. Several were acquired by major museums such as the Centre Georges Pompidou de Paris, and they are considered as "originals". Very few of these pieces change hands and it is rare to see more than one ready-made at a public auction. Hence the historic nature of the New York sale of 13 May 2002 when Philips, De Pury & Luxembourg offered a total of 11 ready-mades. Nothing like it had ever occurred before. Indeed, it was at that session that Roue de bicyclette confirmed its highest bid for a Duchamp work: USD 1.6m (EUR 1.75m), a price already reached on 17 November 1999 at Sotheby’s NY for the famous Fountain of 1917. The other ready-mades sold for between EUR 100,000 and 300,000 on average. While the ready-mades fetch high prices (90% go for at least EUR 100,000), Duchamp's other works remain relatively affordable.
Boosted by the statistics of the New York auction on 13 May, 2002, Marcel Duchamp's price index shot up 135% over 24 months. However since then, with no highly publicized sales to stimulate prices, his price index has tended to stabilize.