Marcel Duchamp’s creative act invokes a question of power or control. How much power does the artist actually have, as to how their art is perceived by the people of the society?
He compares the creation of art being controlled by two poles of two factors- One the artist himself and other the spectator who eventually plays the role in defining the meaning of the art. Duchamp is putting the artist in the shoes of a medium which means he has lost all consciousness or the purpose of creating an art piece. He believes that an artist becomes successful when the spectator perceive his art and accept his art. That’s why he says- “Millions of artists create; only a few thousands are discussed or accepted by the spectator and many less again are consecrated by posterity.”
It is only after he gets accepted as a successful artist, when his art resonates some social value which the spectators are able to connect to that he proudly gets to be a part of the Art History.
In his talk- he raises a very valid question of how the spectator will be able to appropriately critique an artist’s work if the artist was not even given the chance to voice his intentions.
He answers this very metaphorically by considering the art and its medium as the conveyor of the intentions. He uses the word “aesthetic osmosis” to describe the process taking place between the art and the spectator through the various media used in the art like pigment or any definite object in the art like a piano or any physical texture used in the art like a marble.
He goes ahead to compare art to emotion and explains good or bad or indifferent, art still remains art just as much as a bad or good emotion still remains an emotion. But this creates a contrary idea. This means that there can not be any bad artist or indifferent artist because in the end art is art and emotion towards art is still emotion towards art irrespective of its nature. He clarifies this confusion by bringing about what he calls “art coefficient”. He explains that in the process of creation, an artist goes from intention to realization. And the link to what he intended to realize to what he actually realized is where the personal art coefficient lies.
And this becomes the deciding factor through which the weight of work is determined on th aesthetic scale by the spectator.
In summary, Duchamp closes his speech by encapsulating it in a paragraph where he says — “All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists”