Alchemist of the avant-garde : the case of Marcel Duchamp by Duchamp, Marcel; Moffitt, John Francis; Duchamp, Marcel

By Duchamp, Marcel; Moffitt, John Francis; Duchamp, Marcel

A desirable ebook demonstrating the impact of alchemy and esoteric traditions at the mature paintings of Marcel Duchamp

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As used later by the Surrealists, the Androgyne still represented much the same idea, but was then given a more erotic emphasis. As they stated, echoing the Alchemists, the sexual act is an ecstatic union, a symbolic fusion of Male and Female, which blurs all distinctions between the sexes. Another important early contribution to the evolving proliferation of modernist esoterica was Mesmerism, named after its founder Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815). At well-attended séances, Mesmer practiced what we would today call hypnotism.

Accordingly, key phrases in the standard lexicon of Symbolist art theory include the occultist paradigms of an Artist-Priest, the Infinite, the Transcendent, High Consciousness, Metaphysical Insight, Correspondences, Synaesthesia, and so forth. Art is, therefore, for the Symbolist Artist-Theoretician functionally a religious art, and the concrete visual sign of its pseudoreligious intention is abstraction. The historical situation of the Esoteric Tradition visibly infected all levels of Occidental modernism.

The common glue is Symbolist culture. ” As a result, the Symbolist artist—a mystic and a seer—must resort to abstraction. According to Aurier’s emphatic conclusion, “the task of the artist, whose eye is able to distinguish essences from tangible objects, . . ” To be a modern primitivist you certainly need not merely ape tribal art ransacked from the French colonies. Aurier is talking about the idea of the primordial, or primitivist attitudes, and not necessarily about any particular art-historical forms.

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