190508: Tertium comparationis

Tate Modern: Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia Tertium comparationis The London Tate is currently not only exhibiting the probably most paradigmatic artist of the 20th century - besides Picasso – it also flanks him with two immensely important representatives of the avant-garde, draws attention to each one of them individually as well as in relation to one another, enables half a century of art to “simply pass by” – and what does the British press do (at least part of it)? It moans. And laments. “Too many blockbuster exhibits”. In light of this exhibit one can only shrug this off as “lamenting on the highest level”. Tu felix Britannia. On account of the sheer abundance of the exhibited works, one could admittedly lose track of things and give up “seeing” and merely “look” at the exhibited pieces. The dry museum-like presentation cannot meet the expectations of the formerly subversive and shocking quality of these works. But when one stands in front of such icons as Duchamp “Nude descending a staircase” (1912) or his “Large glass” (1915 – 23) or, for the first time in Europe – his “Etant donnés” (“Being given” 1946 – 66), even if it is only shown in its virtual form, as the original is permanently installed in Philadelphia. The exhibit also calls for a comparison among the three artists and undoubtedly makes it clear who is the greatest star among them. No surprise – it is Duchamp. His “Nude”, the perfidious-voyeuristic installation “Etants donnés”, with which nobody counted any more, since they all thought that from now on Duchamp was only going to be a chess player, and the “Glass”, with which he drove the machine aesthetics to unimagined erotic, and later interpretational, climaxes, invented the concept of the “readymade”, which presents an everyday object as an artwork and substantially incited the gender twist with his alter ego Rrose Sélavy. Against all of this – even if the foregoing description may only adumbrate his work – Man Ray’s photograms, for which he is probably best known, and Francis Picabia’s shameless poaching in the styles and artworks of others, which all the same made him to a post-modern avant la lettre, looks rather moderate in comparison. Relatively speaking, of course. Tate Modern SE1 9TG London, Bankside, until 25.05.08 www.tate.org.uk/modern/

Tate Modern
SE1 9TG London, Bankside
Tel: +44 20 7887 8000
Öffnungszeiten: Sunday to Thursday, 10.00-18.00 (galleries open at 10.15); Friday and Saturday, 10.00-22.00 (galleries open at 10.15); Last admission into exhibitions 17.15 (Fri and Sat 21.15);Closed 24, 25, 26 Decem

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