Art, Language and Machines: The Interrelationship between Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia and Raymond Roussel

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Journal Article
Anistoriton, Journal of History, Archaeology and Art History, 2009, 11 (3), pp. 1 - 10
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The age in which the twentieth century French avant-garde visual artists Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia created some of their most inspired and influential artworks was one that would indomitably and inextricably be linked to the concept of the machine and the increasing onslaught and advent of new technology. Within the twentieth century, whatever these artists accomplished was achieved due to their engaging in a dialogism between art and the newest forms of technology. This dialogism would arise from their endeavors to sidestep traditional aesthetic criteria to critique a new world of machine technology, which they would link integrally to a fresh exploration of language. Much of the inspiration behind this would be provided by the literary influence of French writer Raymond Roussel (1877-1933), whose revolutionary literary individualism strongly influenced Picabia's and Duchamp's artistic development. One of Duchamp's major innovations, which he made by redefining the boundaries and categories surrounding art in the early to mid -twentieth century was his declaration that anything can be art, if the artists says so. A great deal of this was made possible and achievable by following Roussel's spirit of anarchy in tandem with the artistic 'alliance' he would form with Francis Picabia. This paper discusses how the spirit of Roussel's ideas would help point both Duchamp and Picabia in a new direction and inspire them to create a unique art that would open the doors of perception for future avant-garde artists. To do this, this paper discusses the importance of language in Francis Picabia's and Marcel Duchamp's art with a particular emphasis on the literary influence of Raymond Roussel upon on their work.
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