I met Kathy Halbreich when Liz Armstrong was doing Duchamp's Leg an exhibition about Duchamp's influence that's when Liz called me a Duchamp Expert, it made me laugh as I remember feeling the same way about baseball players and knowing all the salient facts about their performances. Even now 20 years on I understand Duchamp in some ways and not others but I do think I was right to study his work. For someone with a serious bi-polar disorder study is the path to sanity. In the arts maybe more so as the history is so layered and woven. Duchamp for me was the path from being a painter to being an artist. And the reading and writing adjacent to the study gave me permissions to take my art in some strange regions.
Madness and genius are near allied and thin partitions do divide. I think this was Dryden or Alexander Polke, can't remember. The whole wild madness of modernism devolves towards a belief that the artists were madmen. And Dada and Duchamp quite likely were the maddest of them all. But the madness metaphor doesn't hold because the Dada movement was brilliant and a brilliant critique of value. And it remains vibrant because of the deconstructive work it did in criticism of the 19th century pap about art and masterpieces etc. Of course time comes along and makes history of everything that's happened. Duchamp was modest, I don't think he ever thought he was all that. Early on he was a painter but you know a painter with a brain is a dangerous thing.Oh yes Halbreich was quite a character and her fashions were very eccentric but she was very clearly someone who loved art. Like Peggy Guggenheim she was an art worker, intent on her mission. And amazing things transpired. (Here now sing- Brazil duh duh duh Brazil ) and Bruce Nauman the master of noises and poses. Thing about bi-polar people is they just don't see things the way other people do - because the world is different after it waxes and wanes. It a view from crisis and a view from sleep, it's the uneasy marriage of order and chaos. And maybe 'tis this what makes Duchamp such a delight for us, because he fails and succeeds in equal measure. He's the greatest modern master and he's the one that proves art is all absurd and false. More later -