Marcel Duchamp is a notable French artist who was most often associated with the Surrealist and Dadaist art movements. Duchamp’s works are not merely composed of paintings but also through interestingly unique and sometimes controversial art installations and sculptures. Although he made a relatively few artworks, he became a noted and highly regarded artist during his time, helping to influence Western art and how people perceive it during this period.
Marcel Duchamp was born on July 28, 1887 in Blainville-Crevon Seine-Maritime in the Haute-Normandie region of France. He came from a family that was deeply rooted in the arts and culture. The family he grew up in enjoyed doing cultural activities as delved in various types of art. Marcel’s parents, Eugene and Lucie Duchamp also brought up four other children that became successful artists.
At an early age, Marcel and his brothers learned to live away from home as they stayed at the Lycee Corneille in Rouen to study, starting at 10 years old. For the next 7 years, the Duchamp brothers were placed in an educational environment where intellectual development was emphasized. Marcel and his brothers were also taught drawing at school.
Marcel’s early works were best described as Post-Impressionism. He also experimented with traditional techniques as well as Cubism and Fauvism. From this time, Marcel was also studying art at the Academie Julian although he spent most of the time outside the school playing billiards. During this time, Marcel was also drawing cartoons and then selling them which made use of visual and symbolic puns.
One of his first works that invited some bit of controversy was his "Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2" in 1912. It is a surreal take on a common subject that depicted a mechanistic view of a nude given superimposed facets similar to motion picture films. This artwork was first submitted to the Cubist exhibition at the Salon des Independants only to be withdrawn due to some controversy. This eventually led Marcel to do away with exhibiting his artworks with groups.
That only started him on his way to create more controversial art pieces. Eventually he immigrated to the US where he built up his name and became a celebrity of some sort in the art world. His works in Dadaism made him quite controversial again. His most notable contribution was an art piece he called "Fountain" which is a urinal placed differently. It created quite a controversy in that the exhibition committee decided that such a work is not art.
Another notable contribution made by Marcel Duchamp was art pieces that came to be known as his "Readymades". They are usually art pieces composed of common items presented in a different way.