It is curious to note to what an extent memory is unfaithful, even for the most important periods of one’s life. It is this, indeed, that explains the delightful fantasy of history.
Art has a tendency to undermine all aesthetic theories. This is certainly the case today when artists are less and less inclined to work within established traditions and more and more drawn to explore new ways of representation and expression away from the traditional ‘fantasies’ of art history. The phrase Post Historical has been suggested for the naming of our present era.
If you can ‘ironize’ with no affective result, with no destructive or laughter either-in your words, with indifference-then you have a chance for another vista. Its not very clear I know, but then I’m not writing a book on the science of irony.
Marcel Duchamp interviewed in the 1960’s
In ‘The Bride Stripped Bare’ by Calvin Tompkins, Marcel Duchamp stated:
“I’m not interested in art per se. It is only one occupation, and it hasn’t been my whole life, far from it. You see. I’ve decided that art is habit-forming drug. That’s all it is, for the artist for the collector, for anybody connected with it. Art has absolutely no existence as veracity, as truth. People always speak of it with this great, religious reverence, but why should it be so revered? It’s a drug that’s all. The more I go on the more I am convinced of it. The onlooker is as important as the artist. In spite of what the artist thinks he is doing, something stays in that is completely independent of what is intended, and that something is grabbed by society-and he is lucky. The artist himself doesn’t count. Society just takes what it wants. The work of art is always based on these two poles of the maker and the onlooker, and the spark that comes from the bi-polar action gives birth to something like electricity.
But the artist himself should not concern himself with this because it has nothing to do with him-it’s the onlooker who has the last word. Fifty years later there will be another generation and another critical language, an entirely different approach. No, the thing to is to try to make a painting that will be alive in your own lifetime. No painting has an active life of more than thirty or forty years - that’s another little idea of mine. I don’t care if its true, it helps me to make a distinction between living art and art history. After thirty or forty years the painting dies, loses its aura, its emanation, what ever you want to call it. And then it’s either forgotten or else it enters into purgatory of art history. But that’s all just luck, a game between artist and onlooker, or a drug as I said before. I’m afraid I’m agnostic in art. I just don’t believe in it with all the mystical trimmings. As a drug it’s probably very useful for a number of people, very sedative, but a religion it’s not even as good as God”