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Marcel Duchamp: “Twisting Memory for the Fun of It” or a Form of Retroactive Interference?— Recalling the Impacts of Leaving Home on the Readymade

Marcus Moore


In the 1960s, Marcel Duchamp, arguably the most influential artist of the twentieth-century, came into real prominence and unprecedented fame. During this period he gave many interviews in which he often took a capricious stance. One topic was crucial: his comments concerning the origin of readymade works of art—mass-produced everyday objects that he first selected in 1913-1914 in Paris, and then after leaving in 1915 to New York he located other examples. In interviews he referred to the readymade as “a happy idea”, but as material objects they signify and embody Duchamp’s leaving home (T.J. Demos, 2007). When leaving home, an individual works through an acculturation process during which they are never truly settled. This article considers the fate of material objects in relation to the veracity of Duchamp’s memory 50 years after the fact in the 1960s, a time when the artist was also the progenitor of a postmodern position.