Dalia Judovitz


On her book Drawing on Art: Duchamp and Company

Cover Interview of May 04, 2010


The impossibility of defining art once and for all may convince us of the viability—indeed, of the necessity—of no longer trying to do so.

If one accepts the legitimacy of the claim that not trying to define art is an acceptable premise, then this lack of a founding definition will not foreclose debate and dissent about its nature; it will invite and drive them.

What Duchamp (along with his Dada co-conspirators Picabia and Man Ray, and his Surrealist counterpart and sometime collaborator Dali) preserved and indeed reserved for postmodernism is an idea of art understood no longer as visual essence or expression but as locus of dissent and disparity of opinion.  It is this modernist legacy that later collaborators such as Baj and/or postmodern appropriators such as Matta-Clark and Wilson drew upon and critically took to task.

The emphases of their works shifted away from the production of objects to the manipulation of the contexts that frame the idea of art in order to expose the institutional scaffolding that props up the possibility of meaning ascribed to works of art.

I argue that such an understanding of art no longer belongs to the realm of aesthetics alone, since it brings into play through its activation and engagement with spectatorship questions of responsibility and ethics.

Drawing on Art: Duchamp and Company shows how the idea of art, insofar as it relies on the works of the past not just as resource but as the springboard for the emergence of postmodernism, can become critical fuel for artistic impetus.

© 2010 Dalia Judovitz