Refashioning Duchamp: An Analysis of the Waistcoat Readymade Series and other Intersections of Art and Fashion
Mida, Ingrid Erica
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French-American artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) is best known as the iconoclastic author of the readymade. In spite of the vast corpus of scholarship dedicated to his oeuvre, the artists preoccupation with clothing has remained virtually unexamined and yet, as this dissertation argues, is of central importance to our understanding of the readymade. Using art historical considerations of the readymade, along with theories of fashion, identity construction, and curation, this dissertation presents a case for reconsidering Duchamps oeuvre with a focus on clothing to answer a central research question: What ultimately is the difference between a Duchamp readymade and an object of fashion exhibited in a museum? The answer, I argue, emerges by bringing the concepts of fashion studies and curatorial studies into a dialogue with Duchamps readymade. Specifically, this dissertation explores (1) Duchamps under-explored series of early drawings that reveal the artists profound interest in the clothed body; (2) Duchamps fashioning of his public self through clothing and photography that circulated widely in the mass media and more privately in avant-garde circles; (3) Duchamps waistcoat readymades Made to Measure (1957-1961) that expand the boundaries of the readymade into clothing; and (4) Duchamps use of fashion in his exhibition designs for the Surrealists in 1938 and 1942. By focusing on the material traces of Duchamps fashioning of his body and identity in his work, this dissertation argues that Duchamps use of clothing profoundly disrupts the notion that art cannot be worn. By exploring Duchamps use of clothing as art, this study advances scholarly knowledge at the intersections of art history and fashion studies, considering also the dynamic engagement of gender and the body in the vanguard of Modernism.