Reflection: The Creative Act by Marcel Duchamp- Annelysse Eggold

“In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane (italics mine).

The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of “ (Duchamp).

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed… a knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity (Einstein)

There is a beautiful correlation here between artist and scientist, an understanding that proceeds from the collective unconscious of man that constitutes Duchamp’s “transference from the artist to the spectator,” of the artist’s energy that emanates from the “experience of the mysterious.”  “The more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers (the ego) and the mind which creates” (T.S. Eliot, italics mine).  In this essay, Duchamp is leading us toward the insight that there exists a synergy between the art, the artist and the spectator that refines the creative work and transmutes it from inert matter into a work of art.  If the artist has succeeded in divesting himself of “the judgment of his own work” and enters into his personal “experience of the mysterious” that is of “a most radiant beauty” which the artist’s mind (reason) cannot fully penetrate, then there exists the possibility of a truly creative work which will “more perfectly transmute the passions which are its material” (T.S. Eliot).

Duchamp’s understanding of the ‘art coefficient’ is important as it helps us penetrate to the truly creative act of art where intention is fully transmuted into realization.

I believe the intention of an artist is to explicate the ”…existence of something we cannot penetrate…a most radiant beauty…which only in its most primitive form is accessible to our minds” (Einstein).  Perhaps it is only when the artist allows his “self” to stand aside and invite the “experience of the mysterious” to enter his work that his intentions are more fully transmuted into realization.  As one Zen master has stated: “No self, no problem.”

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