Alchemist of the Avant-Garde: The Case of Marcel Duchamp by John F. Moffitt

By John F. Moffitt

A desirable publication demonstrating the effect of alchemy and esoteric traditions at the mature paintings of Marcel Duchamp.

Acknowledged because the "Artist of the Century," Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) left a legacy that dominates the paintings global to today. Inventing the sarcastically dégagé angle of "ready-made" art-making, Duchamp heralded the postmodern period and changed Pablo Picasso because the function version for avant-garde artists. John F. Moffitt demanding situations typically authorized interpretations of Duchamp's artwork and character by means of displaying that his mature artwork, after 1910, is basically drawn from the impression of the occult traditions. Moffitt demonstrates that the most important to figuring out the cryptic which means of Duchamp's diversified artistic endeavors and writings is alchemy, the main pictorial of the entire occult philosophies and sciences.

This leading edge artwork heritage is written in a full of life, particular variety. very like a prosecuting lawyer's short, Alchemist of the Avant-Garde argues its case with documented old proof, now not theoretical types. a desirable learn, Moffitt's paintings may be welcomed through artists, artwork fans, and all these drawn to the cultural background of the fashionable and postmodern eras.

“…this huge and profound examine is extremely informative, thought-provoking and horizon-broadening.” — AMBIX, magazine of the Society for the background of Alchemy and Chemistry

"The entire publication is unforeseen to people who have by no means thought of Duchamp as an alchemist, starting from the professors who contain him of their artwork heritage surveys to the authors of even fatter books approximately him. Moffitt's a prolific and extremely generally cultured writer, with particular services within the Renaissance and within the topic of forgery in addition to in these so much enigmatic of contemporary artists, Joseph Beuys and Marcel Duchamp. i can't identify the other paintings historian who understands the esoteric box in addition to he does." — Joscelyn Godwin, writer of Theosophical Enlightenment

John F. Moffitt is Professor Emeritus of paintings historical past at New Mexico country college. he's the writer of Spanish portray; Occultism in Avant-Garde paintings: The Case of Joseph Beuys; Velázquez, práctica e suggestion: Estudios dispersos; paintings Forgery: The Case of the girl of Elche; the humanities in Spain; and Picturing Extraterrestrials: Alien Imagery in sleek Mass tradition. he's coauthor (with Santiago Sebastián) of O courageous New humans: the eu Invention of the yank Indian.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Prosecuting the Duchamp Case
1. An Esoteric French youth for Duchamp: Symbolist tradition and Occultism
2. the discovery of the trendy Alchemist-Artist
3. The Cultural Shaping of an Artist-Iconoclast: Duchamp in France, 1887–1915
4. Duchamp's First Experiments in Esoteric and Alchemical artwork, 1910–1912

5. Duchamp in big apple with Esoteric buyers and the big Glass, 1915–1923
6. Alchemical Emblematics and the Ready-Mades, 1913–1923
7. The Esoteric Fourth size and legislation of probability, 1895–1923
8. The Circle Closes, 1923–1968
Epilogue: The Prosecution Rests

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On this level, as everywhere else, one notes an obsessive preoccupation with symbols. Since the mystagogue’s Higher Truths cannot be immediately apprehended by uninitiated minds, they must be conveyed to lesser, unempowered human vessels by and through symbols. Besides resorting to unique and often extremely complicated symbolic systems, themselves generally taken to be empowered in order to affect less developed minds on unconscious levels, esoteric Adepts typically form organized Brotherhoods.

Indeed, the provocative idea of God-like artistic creation appears to have been commonplace within classical literary theory. However, the real situation was otherwise. According to E. R. Curtius, Ancient Greece put the poet in the category of “god-like men,” alongside heroes, kings, heralds, priest, seers. . [Nonetheless,] the Greeks did not know the concept of the creative imagination. They had no word for it. What the poet produced was a fabrication. Aristotle praises Homer for having taught poets “to lie properly” (Poetics, 1460 a, 19).

The specifically modernist manifestations of timeless 24 ALCHEMIST OF THE AVANT-GARDE esoterica include: the practice of hypnotism, magic, astrology, mental telepathy and clairvoyance, water dowsing and crystal gazing; the search for lost continents; the belief in pyramidology, witches, poltergeists, vampires, reincarnation; resort to water-diets and vegetarianism; pleging allegiance to UFOs (flying saucers) and ETs (extraterrestrials), supermen and super-races; pursuing research in geomancy, phrenology, homeopathy, chiropractic and osteopathy, phrenology, parapsychology and (some of) psychiatry, graphology and physiognomy, palmistry, allopathy, and alchemy.

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