Two teenagers took the perennial “I could have made that” response to modern art to its logical conclusion this week, sticking a pair of glasses in front of a sign at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts and passing it off as an artwork.
Pictures they took of people admiring and photographing the unremarkable glasses swiftly went viral, and the MoMA really had to respond.
Tweeting one of the pair, 17-year-old TJ Khayatan, the museum joked: “Do we have a Marcel Duchamp in our midst?”
It linked out to a profile page for the French artist extolling how he “challenged traditional notions of making and exhibiting art”.
The similarity between his work and the stunt, which is arguably a piece of art itself, is clear from philosopher Stephen Hicks assessment of Duchamp’s infamous ‘Fountain’, which consisted simply of a urinal turned on its side:
'The artist is a not great creator—Duchamp went shopping at a plumbing store. The artwork is not a special object—it was mass-produced in a factory. The experience of art is not exciting and ennobling—at best it is puzzling and mostly leaves one with a sense of distaste. But over and above that, Duchamp did not select just any ready-made object to display. In selecting the urinal, his message was clear: Art is something you piss on.'
In spite of the mocking tone of the prank, Khayatan isn’t completely dismissive of modern art however, telling BuzzFeed: “I can agree that modern art can be a joke sometimes, but art is a way to express our own creativity.
“Some may interpret it as a joke, some might find great spiritual meaning in it. At the end of the day, I see it as a pleasure for open-minded people and imaginative minds.”
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