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Marcel Duchamp's influence

Hi Metalworkers and academics,

I am looking for documentation from published resources for a term
paper on Marcel Duchamp’s influence on us, the metal artists.

If anyone has any recommendations, I would be truly grateful.

Magazine articles, books, journals, films, documentaries,
interviews, etc. are all fair game for me.

Also, I am looking for a referance for the history of contemporary
metalworking…basically how the division came about from
traditional jewelers and metalartists who may do “jewelry”)


    If anyone has any recommendations, I would be truly grateful. 

Hello Dan;

You’ll hopefully get many suggestions on this. I’m not sure if you
mean recent influences, of which there’s been plenty since the
sixties, or you’re looking for some sort of historical continuity
from Duchamp’s time forward. There’s one book I think you’ll get a
lot out of and it’s small and an easy read. It’s Edward
Lucie-Smith’s “History of Craft”. His son, Paul Smith wrote an
interesting book call “Poetry of the Phsical” that goes into the
evolution of the various crafts aesthetics. As for Duchamp, I don’t
know of any direct influences. I imagine there may have been an
anomoly of two during the Bauhaus that referred to his "ready mades"
but it would have been a little afield of their theories. Things
like that started happening in the 60’s. To my knowlege, the metal
arts didn’t pay much attention to the more theoretical interests of
painting and sculpture until after the American Craft Movement, and
maybe not until Deco, during which time jewelers were very interested
in sculpture and painting. One figure in jewelry you might research,
who was on the outskirts of the Abstract Expressionism gang was Sam
Kramer. Of course, Calder and Bertioa made some nice pieces in
wearable scale metal art. Sounds like a fun project. Good luck.

David L. Huffman

Hi Dan…

I don’t have any info. behind Duchamp, and I wish you luck in your
research, but I do have a few recommendations for the second part of
your inquiry…

-Tait, Hugh. “5,000 Years of Jewelry”

-Schaadt, Hermann. “Goldsmiths Art: 5,000 Years of Jewlery and
Hollowware” (European Publication)

-Greenbaum, Toni. "Messangers of Modernism, American Studio Jewelry
Movement 1940-1960

-Dormer, Peter and Ralph Turner. “The New Jewelry, Trends and

Hope this helps,

I can not think of anyone who would be more displeased than Marcel
Duchamp, in being credited for having any influence on jewelry

I can not think of anyone who would be more displeased than Marcel
Duchamp, in being credited for having  any influence on jewelry

That may be true…but he is undeniably a huge influence, whether he
likes it or not. Anyone who ever made a “concept” piece or used a
"found object" owes him a tip of the hat.

I am not concerned with his influence on jewelry anyway. I am
concerned with his influence that brought the metal artists away
from pretty, precious adornment and brought forth the movement to
create visually appealing and important artwork that can be worn as
well as the importance of his Ready-Mades in our chosen art field.

There have been some GREAT responses thus far…keep it up!


Marcel Duchamp & Art vs.Craft

Discussions about art and craft, Marcel Duchamp, wow I thought to
myself, Orchid is becomming a true forum for the intellectual! But,
then I read the posts. What Neanderthals, troglydytes, shocking and
disapointing too. Well ok so maybe the best thing is to limit the
forum to discussions of the correct type of solder to use and other
mundane technical concerns.

Well I agree with Barbara V, Duchamp would certainly turn over in
his grave if he knew he was getting credit as a major influence on
jewelry design. Most of the designs produced by De Patta, Macharini,
Smith and the other Studio Jewelers of the 1930s-1950’s came more
from specific artistic movements such as The Bauhaus, Cubisim and
Abstract Expressionism. They were rarely interested in the inner
meaning but simply copied the outer form.

The history of art for the last 150 years or so has been the history
of a discipline turned inward. Art used to be about images of
things in the world or it least as the rich viewed the world. But
then came the birth of the camera and the death of the aristocratic
class and art left with out an external referent, became about art
itself. So, in order to understand art in its modern
manifestations you have to study art, its modern development and the
intention of the individual artist.

That was Duchamp’s point, or should have been. As a result art has
turned procateur, it may anger, it may shock something pretty much
lacking in the history of jewelry design.


I can not think of anyone who would be more displeased than Marcel
Duchamp, in being credited for having any influence on jewelry

Why do you say this? I think Duchamp, or any artist, would be
gratified to think they continued to have influence. Better to be
(possibly) misunderstood than ignored or forgotten!


    Anyone who ever made a "concept" piece or used a "found object"
owes him (Duchamp) a tip of the hat. 

Hi Dan;

You may be right about Duchamp’s influence on the use of found
objects, but in my opinion, that phenomenon owes more to the work of
a man named Joseph Cornell. Look up his work. I think there are many
people currently using his type of imagery and they don’t even know
he started it all.

David L. Huffman

Well, at risk of being called a neanderthal or troglydyte, I still
pose the question…have the contemporary metal artists taken more
from the world of Duchamp and his lineage (the Ready-Made) than
they have from the purely ornamental aristocratic jewelry designers
of the past 100 years??

Bauhaus, Ab X, and Cubism (of which Ducamp was apart of) are all
undoubted influences…but I look at contemporary art metal
magazines (Metalsmith, Ornament) and at galleries and I see this
Duchamp influence abound. Johns, Kosuth, Oldenberg, Ebendorf, Mann
are all players on the same team in my opinion. All influenced by
Duchampian thinking.

    I can not think of anyone who would be more displeased than
Marcel Duchamp, in being credited for having  any influence on
jewelry design

Unless, of course, it could be Man Ray.


When I was in graduate school, we all had to address Duchamp’s
influence on our various fields of study. I chose to “compare and
contrast” his work with that of renowned metalsmith Albert Paley.
Little to compare, lots to contrast. Duchamp hated what he referred
to as “the paw” of painting, or any sign that the artist was
physically involved in what he saw as a purely intellectual act.
What I ended up with is that “Paley’s language is metal, Duchamp’s
is mental…”

I concluded that the two would have very little to talk about if
they had ever met.

However, conceptualism has found it’s way into jewelry making.
Witness Emmy van Leersum’s work, or Barbara Heinrich’s "light "
piece. Amazing and powerful, and nothing to do with “the paw” of
metalsmithing. More about ideas…

BK in AK

Why am I up in the middle of the night thinking about this? I don’t
know if you can prove a direct influence, but there is at least a
discourse that may have “begun” with Duchamp. What if, like lit crit
types, you toss out the whole notion of the “author” and instead
think in terms of “intertextuality?” Then you can’t help thinking of
Duchamp when you look at Ebendorf et al.

I so wish I could explain this simply for those of you who haven’t
been drenched in this stuff, but it’s like nobody actually originates
anything, it all sort of emerges–and all the things we take for
granted, like “origins,” become problematic–which is why I use so
many quotation marks. (The French have a better way of doing it, by
keeping the word, but crossing it out at the same time.) I know, it
sounds crazy, but it actually can make you question things you’ve
always taken for granted. Just as Duchamp’s urinal was meant to do.

Yes, I think of Cornell, too, when I look at Ebendorf et al. But who
is the chicken and who is the egg? The concept of an assisted
ready-made seems as integral (of course, I’m slipping out of that
discourse by even using such a term) to “contemporary art jewelry” as
does assemblage. And isn’t it part of the same discourse? (One I have
complained about bitterly…since I’m a femme decorative artist at
heart, not the edgy post-structuralist I once tried to be).

So much for dredging up my two-decades-old graduate school education
after midnight. I can’t believe I once read all that stuff and
actually seemed to understand it. I no longer even understand the
papers I wrote myself…

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Fort Bragg, CA