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Alchemist of the Avant-Garde
The Case of Marcel Duchamp
Alchemist of the Avant-Garde
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John F. Moffitt - Author
SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
N/A
Hardcover - 512 pages
Release Date: June 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5709-5
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5709-2

Out of Print
Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 512 pages
Release Date: August 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5710-9
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5710-8

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

A fascinating book demonstrating the influence of alchemy and esoteric traditions on the mature art of Marcel Duchamp.

Acknowledged as the "Artist of the Century," Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) left a legacy that dominates the art world to this day. Inventing the ironically dégagé attitude of "ready-made" art-making, Duchamp heralded the postmodern era and replaced Pablo Picasso as the role model for avant-garde artists. John F. Moffitt challenges commonly accepted interpretations of Duchamp's art and persona by showing that his mature art, after 1910, is largely drawn from the influence of the occult traditions. Moffitt demonstrates that the key to understanding the cryptic meaning of Duchamp's diverse artworks and writings is alchemy, the most pictorial of all the occult philosophies and sciences.

This innovative art history is written in a lively, unique style. Much like a prosecuting lawyer's brief, Alchemist of the Avant-Garde argues its case with documented historical evidence, not theoretical models. A fascinating read, Moffitt's work will be welcomed by artists, art lovers, and all those interested in the cultural history of the modern and postmodern eras.

“…this extensive and profound research is highly informative, thought-provoking and horizon-broadening.” — AMBIX, Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry

"The whole book is unexpected to those who have never considered Duchamp as an alchemist, ranging from the professors who include him in their Art History surveys to the authors of even fatter books about him. Moffitt's a prolific and very widely cultured author, with special expertise in the Renaissance and in the subject of forgery as well as in those most enigmatic of modern artists, Joseph Beuys and Marcel Duchamp. I cannot name any other art historian who knows the esoteric field as well as he does." — Joscelyn Godwin, author of Theosophical Enlightenment

John F. Moffitt is Professor Emeritus of Art History at New Mexico State University. He is the author of Spanish Painting; Occultism in Avant-Garde Art: The Case of Joseph Beuys; Velázquez, práctica e idea: Estudios dispersos; Art Forgery: The Case of the Lady of Elche; The Arts in Spain; and Picturing Extraterrestrials: Alien Imagery in Modern Mass Culture. He is coauthor (with Santiago Sebastián) of O Brave New People: The European Invention of the American Indian.


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Prosecuting the Duchamp Case

1. An Esoteric French Adolescence for Duchamp: Symbolist Culture and Occultism

2. The Invention of the Modern Alchemist-Artist

3. The Cultural Shaping of an Artist-Iconoclast: Duchamp in France, 1887–1915

4. Duchamp's First Experiments in Esoteric and Alchemical Art, 1910–1912

5. Duchamp in New York with Esoteric Patrons and the Large Glass, 1915–1923

6. Alchemical Emblematics and the Ready-Mades, 1913–1923

7. The Esoteric Fourth Dimension and Laws of Chance, 1895–1923

8. The Circle Closes, 1923–1968

Epilogue: The Prosecution Rests

Notes

Bibliography

Index



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