Hans M. De Wolf - SUR MARCEL DUCHAMP
Rencontre publique avec Hans M. De Wolf le jeudi 30 octobre 2014 à 18h30 à l'auditorium
Hans de Wolf est un des principaux spécialistes de Duchamp dans le monde. En 1998, il a découvert dans les archives de la Beinecke des livres rares et des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque de l'Université de Yale à New Haven, un travail encore inconnu par Marcel Duchamp qui a donné lieu à un débat intense et a depuis été ajouté au travail de l'artiste.
The Bride of Beirut
Few artists have had a more crucial influence on the development of the Western Avant-garde in the visual arts then the French born American artist Marcel Duchamp. The artist is remembered for having refused to continue to paint, for having been a great inspiration for the DADA and Surrealist movements, for having been an extremely charming and venerated personality within artistic circles of his time, for having been a master in chess, but most of all for having invented the paradigm of the “Ready made” when he fixed as early as in 1912 a bicycle wheel on a stool. However only few people remember that Marcel Duchamp passed most of his life working on and reflecting about one major work on glass that is now preserved in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and that it was not before he reached the age of 70 that he eventually would become a superstar and a major inspiration for younger generations of artists. It is time to unlock all the riddles and mysteries that surround that object called: Ready made, and the way to do so leads un in the arms of the Bride, the Bride of Beirut.
Marcel Duchamp, The Universe of the Bride and the Bachelors
“The Bride stripped down by her Bachelors, even” (1912-1923, Philadelphia Museum of art) also known as the Large Glass, is the most ambitious project developed by the French born American artist Marcel Duchamp. At the same time is one of the highlights of the visual arts in the 20th century. The questions that were brought up during the elaboration of this piece of art, would lay at the basis – decades later – of a new type of art that would tend to refer merely to idea’s and concepts and no longer only to the aesthetic capacities and unique character of the painters hand. The work is composed out of two domains, a female world represented on the upper part of the glass, and a male mechanism painted on the lower part. Three horizontal glass blades (called the horizon) hold both parts in a hermetic separation. This piece of art, as Paul Matisse suggested, has very little to offer at an ad random spectator passing by in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It doesn’t function like the Matisse painting or the Brancusi sculpture situated near by. One can only start to understand what this monumental glass door is about, by accepting to study a variety of hand written notes by the artist, available in facsimile in the so called “Green Box”. This exercise will allow to slowly assimilate one of the most original art works of all times. A central thought the spectator/lector will soon discover, one that creates a particular tension between the universe of the Bride and the masculine Bachelor machine in the lower part, is the fact that it has always been impossible for a male human being to understand how female sexuality functions and vice-versa. And yet, at the same time both sexes are also driven by a primitive instinct that seems to be part of the human DNA and condemns them to depend on each other. An instinct responsible for chemical reactions in the brain that can lead to strange forms of melancholia but also to most uncontrollable excesses of drift and rape. However an all over consensus on the final meaning of the work has never been found. Each new spectator that takes up the challenge and travels through the notes will fill the Large Glass with his own content and meaning. However, several primary structures and mechanical elements will be the same for all. The strange skeleton in the Bride’s domain for instance, must be understood as a projection of the body of a woman in the 4th dimension. It was impossible for regular painting in 1912 to represent the consequences of that condition. In the 4th dimension her body parts were supposed to be turned inside-out and would all remain in a state of permanent transmutation. Duchamp choose to transmit this idea by making a “snap shot” of that particular situation and to paint that picture on the glass. The cloud produced by the skeleton is supposed to be the expression of her orgasm. The bachelor machine at the bottom of the glass is situated in a 3 dimensional environment. It is a hybrid, half mechanical half optical apparatus that must be understood as a metaphor for the male drift. In 9 malic moulds an antropomorph type of gas will slowly become aware of its strong male identity and will further be manipulated by a series of devices until it comes to an explosion and gas drops that will be projected towards the Bride’s domain. Experts of the work disagree about the question if both worlds will ever succeed to connect or not, however that tells more about the experts than about work, as Duchamp would have loved it.
À propos de Hans M. De Wolf
Hans Maria DE WOLF (1961) est historien de l’art et se penche principalement sur l’art moderne et contemporain, la philosophie et l’esthétique. Il a étudié à la Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) ainsi qu’à la Columbia University à New York. En 2002 il obtient un doctorat au sujet d’une interprétation volumineuse et fondamentalement innovatrice sur l’une des œuvres majeures de Marcel Duchamp, La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même. Depuis 1998, de Wolf est impliqué dans le développement et la réalisation de divers projets d’exposition auprès de la Neue Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, le Musée d’Art Contemporain de Berlin. A la Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee, il présente des séminaires sur l’art théorique depuis 2002. En 2004, Hans Maria de Wolf a été nommé Professeur d’Histoire de l’Art et d’Esthétique à la VUB. La même année, il se voit invité en tant que senior consultant par le Palais des Beaux-Arts, en particulier pour développer de futures relations avec l’Allemagne. En 2005, il a été mandaté pour la création d’un institut (La Plateforme, connu comme le « Modèle de Bruxelles ») afin de créer un environnement institutionnel pour la mise en œuvre d’une recherche artistique. Il lança ainsi une série entière de prestigieux projets de recherche impliquant quelque uns des plus célèbres artistes de la scène belge. Depuis 2009, ce contexte global d’intermédiation entre les mondes de l’art et de l’académie prit une toute nouvelle dimension lorsqu’il fut mandaté par le Gouvernement Régional Bruxellois pour créer un premier projet d’exposition dans le cadre de Shanghai 2010. Plusieurs autres projets suivirent, tous conçus selon la même philosophie dans des villes comme Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Gwangju, Chengdu et de nouveau Beijing. A travers les années, une méthodologie unique a été développée et doit être entendue en tant qu’entrelacement d’une diplomatie culturelle et académique, par laquelle les projets d’exposition deviennent la force motrice d’un échange intensif impliquant les universités locales et les écoles d’art. En 2011, résultat d’un projet de recherche d’une durée de trois ans, The Crooked Path, un projet d’exposition historique sur le photographe canadien Jeff Wall conçu en étroite collaboration avec l’artiste, a ouvert au Palais des Beaux-Arts à Bruxelles. Plus récemment, Hans Maria de Wolf collabore avec l’artiste chinois Xu Bing sur un projet d’exposition qui amènera quelque uns des meilleurs artistes chinois à Bruxelles. Pendant ce temps, un projet d’exposition belge dont de Wolf est le curateur, aura lieu au Musée de l’Académie Centrale des Beaux-Arts (CAFA) de Beijing.
Hans Maria DE WOLF (1961) is an art historian who focuses mainly on modern and contemporary art, philosophy and aesthetics. He studied at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Columbia University in New York. In 2002 he obtained his PhD degree for a voluminous and fundamentally innovative interpretation of one of Marcel Duchamp’s major works, La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires même. Since 1998 de Wolf has been involved in the development and realization of various exhibition projects in the Neue Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin. At the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee he has been giving theoretical art seminars since 2002. In 2004 Hans Maria de Wolf was appointed Professor of Art History and Aesthetics at Brussels Free University (VUB). That same year he was invited as a senior consultant by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in particular to develop further relations with Germany. In 2005 he was mandated the creation of an institute (The Platform, known as the “Brussels model”) in order to create an institutional environment for the implementation of artistic research. He then launched a whole series of prestigious research projects involving some of Belgium’s most famous artists. Since 2009 this global context of intermediation between the worlds of art and academia took on a whole new dimension when he was mandated by Brussels Regional Government to create a first exhibition project for Shanghai 2010. Several other projects would follow, all conceived according to the same philosophy, bringing some of Belgium’s outstanding artists to cities such as Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Gwangju, Chengdu and Beijing again. Over the years a unique methodology was developed that has to be understood as the intertwining of cultural and academic diplomacy, whereby exhibition projects become the driving force for an intensive interchange including local universities and art schools. In 2011, as the result of a three year long research project, The Crooked Path, an art historical exhibition project on the Canadian photographer Jeff Wall, conceived in tight collaboration with the artist, opened at the Palais de Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Most recently Hans Maria De Wolf is collaborating with the Chinese artist Xu Bing on an exhibition project that will bring some of China’s most excellent artists to Brussels, while at the same time a Belgian exhibition project curated by De Wolf will be held at the museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing.