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THE DAILY PIC: This is the trace of Marcel Duchamp’s heartbeat, recorded 48 years ago today by a doctor named Brian O’Doherty, better known by far as a critic and conceptual artist (often under the pseudonym Patrick Ireland, assumed in honor of his homeland’s struggles with England). The heartbeat is on display in a lovely little survey of some of O’Doherty’s output, shared between Simone Subal gallery in New York and a nearby gallery called “P!”
Duchamp’s EKG is one element in what went on to become O’Doherty’s 16-part “portrait” of the great Dada artist, which also includes a kinetic light sculpture that seems to reproduce the oscillograph trace of Duchamp’s heart actually beating. (That piece is also at Subal’s). And the composite portrait is evidence of a precariously balanced love-hate relationship that O’Doherty had with its subject – the relationship all ambitious artists have with their most important forerunner.  
Duchamp once said that “after twenty years [artworks] are finished. Their life is over. They survive all right, because they are part of art history, and art history is not art. I don’t believe in preserving, I think as I said that a work of art dies.” In his portrait, O’Doherty self-consciously set out to prove Duchamp wrong, by making a piece that would keep the Frenchman’s presence and legacy – and heartbeat – “alive” wherever and whenever the portrait is shown. “I’ve made Duchamp live 250 years; It’s very cruel, but he deserved it,” O’Doherty told me after a talk that he gave at Subal’s.  But of course O’Doherty’s cruelty is also a gesture of absolute homage, from O’Doherty to a genius – and a friend – upon whom he wished endless life.
It has often been said that a fine portrait confers as much immortality on its maker as on its sitter. But the question here is whether we are contemplating a portrait of Duchamp or by him – drawn in fact with each beat of his heart. We sometimes come across someone whom we bill as an artist through and through, in every fiber of their body, and maybe here we’re seeing Duchamp prove that he’s one. (Image – margins cropped for clarity – is courtesy the artist, P! and Simone Subal Gallery)
The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Apr 4, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: This is the trace of Marcel Duchamp’s heartbeat, recorded 48 years ago today by a doctor named Brian O’Doherty, better known by far as a critic and conceptual artist (often under the pseudonym Patrick Ireland, assumed in honor of his homeland’s struggles with England). The heartbeat is on display in a lovely little survey of some of O’Doherty’s output, shared between Simone Subal gallery in New York and a nearby gallery called “P!”

Duchamp’s EKG is one element in what went on to become O’Doherty’s 16-part “portrait” of the great Dada artist, which also includes a kinetic light sculpture that seems to reproduce the oscillograph trace of Duchamp’s heart actually beating. (That piece is also at Subal’s). And the composite portrait is evidence of a precariously balanced love-hate relationship that O’Doherty had with its subject – the relationship all ambitious artists have with their most important forerunner.  

Duchamp once said that “after twenty years [artworks] are finished. Their life is over. They survive all right, because they are part of art history, and art history is not art. I don’t believe in preserving, I think as I said that a work of art dies.” In his portrait, O’Doherty self-consciously set out to prove Duchamp wrong, by making a piece that would keep the Frenchman’s presence and legacy – and heartbeat – “alive” wherever and whenever the portrait is shown. “I’ve made Duchamp live 250 years; It’s very cruel, but he deserved it,” O’Doherty told me after a talk that he gave at Subal’s.  But of course O’Doherty’s cruelty is also a gesture of absolute homage, from O’Doherty to a genius – and a friend – upon whom he wished endless life.

It has often been said that a fine portrait confers as much immortality on its maker as on its sitter. But the question here is whether we are contemplating a portrait of Duchamp or by him – drawn in fact with each beat of his heart. We sometimes come across someone whom we bill as an artist through and through, in every fiber of their body, and maybe here we’re seeing Duchamp prove that he’s one. (Image – margins cropped for clarity – is courtesy the artist, P! and Simone Subal Gallery)

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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