The Art Newspaper recently republished an interview with Marcel Duchamp that appeared for the first time in their March 1993 issue. The conversation offers the artist’s thoughtful and tempered reflections on his own radical choices, his generation and contemporaries, and the role of art in life.
Among many choice quotes, the one below stands out as particularly inspiring and relevant:
What I intended [in an artwork] is of no interest; what is interesting is the effect the work has on the spectator, on the public who will decide if the work is important enough to survive. If not, if the public decides against it, if they are unmoved by it, then the Glass will be broken and people will stop talking about it, which could quite easily happen in 20 years or 10 years, or even sooner. So, it’s nothing to do with me; I have nothing to say. I created something and it’s up to the public—they decide whether the work survives or disappears.
Here, Duchamp expresses the integral role of the viewer to his work, suggesting that its creation is only the first, but not most important stage, of its lifespan. His words assert the role of art as an evolving conversation between object and viewer, and align with the aims of our educational programs here at MoMA; creating experiences where visitors can interact with and gauge their reaction to artworks in this way.
Check out Marcel Duchamp’s work To Be Looked at (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour, shown above, in the show Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925 and think about his question: what effect does the work have on you?