Over the past couple of years my interest in painting has shifted, from a long-time concern with abstraction - mostly involving mountain landscapes - to a desire to inject “narrative” content back into the mix. Concurrently, this artistic-looking character showed up, with a beret, and an apparent need for some kind of transformational process.
I also became aware of recent art-historical research into the origins of the idea that anyone can be an artist, and if so, then maybe anything can be art. Some people blame this idea on the French artist, Marcel Duchamp, often considered the father of conceptual art. (Duchamp famously “gave up art” to devote his time to chess, the process of his “giving up” being itself an artistic act.)
Duchamp entered a urinal into an art exhibition in 1917. It was rejected and pretty much forgotten, but knowledge of it became common in the 1960s. Since Duchamp was a “recognized” artist, an effort was made to accommodate (no pun intended) this idea: that a urinal bought in a hardware supply and turned on its side could be art. The acceptance of this idea has transformed art over the past 60 years. Now, a question has arisen about Duchamp's true motives. Instead of a deeply-held philosophical belief that anything could be art, was it maybe just a prank? An evening-up of old scores? A caprice taken too seriously by the arts elite? It raises an awkward question when one considers the vast sums of money and prestige at stake.