Bowdoin Museum of Art Salon: Marcel Duchamp

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By Julian Ehrlich ’17

At a recent Museum of Art’s evening salon series, museum co-director Anne Goodyear touched repeatedly on the connectivity of artists through time.

“Artists are always in conversation with one another,” she noted. Her talk, “Collaborations, Collusions, and Duchamp,” focused on the museum exhibition, Collaborations and Collusions: Artists’ Networks from the Nineteenth Century to the Present.

The Museum’s next salon will be Thursday, Feb.19, at 7 p.m. Sarah Ruden, a visiting scholar from Brown University, will speak about the story of Cupid and Psyche as told in Apuleius’s 2nd-century novel, The Golden Ass. Her talk will coincide with the museum show, Weaving the Myth of Psyche: Baroque Tapestries from the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Goodyear’s recent talk focused on Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and his audience, both of his contemporaries and from today. She led a tour through the galleries of the Museum as she spoke.

To provide context for the environment that laid the foundation for Duchamp’s art, Goodyear began by describing Manet’s artworks, Baudelaire’s writing, and the city of Paris in the second half of the 19-century. This was a time that encouraged the growth of modernism and helped foster the collaborations among many impressionist and post-impressionist artists featured in the show.

Modern artists of that period came to assume the role of someone who “question[s] aspects of the status quo and the existing social order [to] get us to think about certain decisions that we make or certain values that we might take for granted,” Goodyear said.

At this point, Goodyear turned to Marcel Duchamp, emphasizing that “Duchamp was really cognizant of being in conversation with others.” She suggested reconsidering the “idea that there are singular geniuses on whose shoulders we rest.”

In the final portion of her talk, Goodyear shifted to the present. Surrounded by works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, she reinforced the idea that Duchamp “recognized that ultimately what would truly define a valuable contribution wasn’t just the people immediately around him, but, rather that it was meaningful to successive generations with whom he did not have a personal connection.”

Later in the semester, at 7 p.m. on April 16, a Museum salon will be led by Elise Weaver, a laboratory instructor with Bowdoin’s physics and astronomy department. Weaver will speak about representations of the cosmos in astrophotography and other visual media in conjunction with the shows Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas and Star Charts and Celestial Scenes from Bowdoin Collection.

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