Marcel Duchamp: The Art Of The Possible – Review

Marcel Duchamp: The Art Of The Possible - Review

Marcel Duchamp: The art of the possible is an illuminative account of the origin and legacy of the “Father of conceptualism” Marcel Duchamp. An inspiration to an enormous variety of artists, it wouldn’t be difficult to find people to speak about his impact, but director Matthew Taylor excels in gathering top-tier voices to illustrate the point.

Artists (Marina Abramovic), musicians (David Bowie), and filmmakers (Michel Gondry) alike cite Duchamp as the foundation for their respective practices. 

Associated with myriad art movements including Dada, Cubism, and Conceptualism, Duchamp is known for creating paintings, sculpture and film. It is fitting, therefore, that Matthew Taylor is himself a multi-disciplinary artist.

Taking on the establishment of his day, Duchamp likens art to religion “It is irrelevant” he says, with too much emphasis on places of worship and not enough on intent. The key to his philosophy is found in a succinct statement: “I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.”  

It’s clear to see throughout Taylor’s documentary what a profound effect Duchamp had on the people around him. Even decades after his death, his stepson Paul Matisse (Grandson of Henri) is visibly upset at recalling his funeral. 

Marcel Duchamp: The art of the possible is a chronological account. At 86 minutes, it is thorough but does drag a little in places. It’s heavy on the talking heads historians, and although their monologues are thoroughly informative, their enthusiasm fails to transfer to the audience.

But stick with it—the pace picks back up once Duchamp makes it to New York.

Matthew Taylor’s documentary is more than a potted history for art students. It is an excellent source for anyone interested in visual culture, 20th Century history, or rejecting the establishment.

Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp

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Esme Betamax is a writer and illustrator. Often found in the Cube Microplex. Favourites include: I ♡ Huckabees, Where the Buffalo Roam, Harold & Maude, Being John Malkovich and In the Shadow of the Moon.