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BBC's Joan Bakewell interviews Marcel Duchamp in 1968


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BBC’s Joan Bakewell interviewed Marcel Duchamp in June 1968, just months before his death. Bakewell asks the artist about his life and relationship to retinal art and Dada, as well as his thoughts on more contemporary works by Happenings artists such as Allan Kaprow. Duchamp speaks about individualism in face of the group think that occurs in self-defined movements such as Dada. Some of Bakewell and Duchamp’s conversation seems still very relevant–at 12:00 Duchamp talks about stylistic repetition and its relationship to value creation and the market, and at 20:00 the BBC interviewee speaks with Duchamp about commodity status of art and how selling his work seems antithetical to his purported mission to desacralize the art object. They talk about his prices a bit–she’s astonished his works sell for upwards of 2,000 GBP (ha!)–and Duchamp admits he is in a lower price bracket than say, Matisse or Cezanne, who could sell for 2 million. She then presses him about why he wouldn’t simply mass produce his work, selling for a more accessible price such as two shillings, and he indignantly responds that, like any classical sculpture, you have to sign readymades and sell them in small editions. They close with speaking about whether art could shock a public anymore. Duchamp adamantly disagrees with the idea that art as it exists in 1968 could shock a public, and that the context of art would have to change for it to be truly shocking.

It’s a good watch for a Monday afternoon getting back in the saddle after the holidays. Also, I don’t think I’ve personally ever seen Duchamp speaking on camera.