Marcel Duchamp

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The Funniest Secret Society in (Portable) Literary History

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Every secret society has its founding myth, and the “Shandies” were no different. In the winter of 1924, or so the story goes, Russian symbolist Andrei Bely suffered a nervous breakdown on the selfsame “towering rock” where Nietzsche first discovered the concept of “the eternal recurrence of the same.” On that same day, composer Edgar Varèse fell from his horse while parodying French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. The coincidence of these two seemingly unrelated events held great importance for the Shandies, who counted Marcel Duchamp, Varèse, Walter Benjamin, Aleister Crowley, Francis Picabia, the suicidal poet Jacques Rigaut, and many others, among their ranks.
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50 Inspiring and Revolutionary Quotes From Avant-Garde Artists

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A key figure in the New German Cinema movement, Wim Wenders is also an accomplished playwright, author, and photographer. His analytical essays, collected in volumes like Emotion Pictures: Reflections on Cinema and experimental documentaries such as Room 666, confirm Wenders’ status as a questing, medium-blurring artist. Wenders is in that sense an avant-garde icon. In time for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhaustive retrospective of his film work, we’ve compiled a series of quotes on art, process, and philosophy from like-minded boundary-leveling… Read More

Eleanor Friedberger soundtracking "Screen Test: Edie Sedgwick," 1965 (photo by Rebecca Greenfield/BAM)

Andy Warhol’s Lost Films Find a Voice in Bradford Cox, Dean Wareham, and More

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Watching a drag queen and a James Dean-looking fella make out over a hamburger while Bradford Cox live-soundtracks it was not quite what I had pictured when I heard about Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films. The Brooklyn Academy of Music event, which opened Thursday night and runs through Saturday (November 8), seemed like a solution the confusion I had felt while watching Andy Warhol’s short films in isolation at the art icon’s Pittsburgh museum a few years back: I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel about the home movies without musical cues swaying me one way or another. There’s no one way to read Warhol’s work, but with the guidance of five experimental musicians — Cox, Television’s Tom Verlaine, Suicide’s Martin Rev, Eleanor Friedberger, and the program’s musical curator, Dean Wareham — the 15 never-before-seen short films selected for Exposed felt far more powerful than they would have on their own. Created for the Exposed program (which showed in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles last month), these 15 songs each highlight different elements of Warhol’s  work, ranging from the vulgarity of both overt sexuality and commercialism to the vulnerability of being on display.
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Vintage Photos of Pop Culture Icons in Drag

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Cross-dressing, whether for pleasure or for mischief (or for plays or films), is no new phenomenon. Every little child experiments with putting on the opposite gender’s designated garb, all on-stage women in Elizabethan theatre were played by men, and many people of both sexes have dressed in drag for a variety of reasons, from personal to professional. So why should our pop culture icons be any different? Click through to join in our celebration of drag in all its forms, and see some of our favorite musicians, artists and writers (though by no means a complete selection — we couldn’t find any photos of J. Edgar Hoover) indulging in a little cross-dressing from as far back as… Read More

A Guide to Pop Culture’s Biggest Hoaxes

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This week, 177 years ago, a series of articles were published in the New York Sun that reported on the discovery of life on the Moon, attributed to well-know astronomer Sir John Herschel. Stories about unicorns, strange humanoids, and entire civilizations described a strange, new world — and newspaper sales skyrocketed. What was intended as a satire — believed to be crafted by a Cambridge-educated reporter — became one of the earliest hoaxes in history, the truth not revealed until weeks later. Since then, and thanks to that lovely invention called the Internet, we’ve become far more jaded and skeptical when it comes to outlandish claims in media. Still, there have been many elaborate hoaxes over time that duped us for fun, profit, and sometimes accidentally. We shared several of pop culture’s biggest hoaxes past the break.
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Extremely Silly Photos of Extremely Serious Artists

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You might think visual artists have it easy — hanging out with models and making pretty pictures — but after a long day of churning out portraits (at the Factory, perhaps) or patiently mixing colors, every serious artist needs to cut loose and let his silly side shine. After all, writers can’t have all the fun, can they? In fact, from what we can tell, artists come up with some of the strangest and funniest ways to play, and we’ve collected a few snaps of their most ridiculous escapades, both candid and posed, here. Click through to check out our gallery of very silly photos of very serious (or at least seriously acclaimed) visual artists, and when you’re through, you just might consider putting aside your work for the afternoon and going out to play.
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10 Famous Artworks Inspired by Other Famous Artworks

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We tend to think of appropriation as a postmodern thing, with artists in all media drawing on, referring to, and mashing up the most influential works of the past. But we forget that this has been happening for centuries — millennia, actually — as Renaissance painters paid tribute to Greek art, ideas circulated within the 19th-century French art scene, and Dada hijacked the course of art history, mocking and inverting everything that came before it. After the jump, we round up some of the best, most famous, and all-around strangest artworks inspired by other artworks. Some are homages, some are parodies, some are responses, and a few seem to function as all three.
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A Collection of Classic Portraits Mashed Up With Contemporary Style

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It’s a pretty well established fact that artists steal from each other — and it’s even more common for artists to take stylistic and technical cues from their predecessors, those established masters whose work still sets the standard for excellence today. But recently we’ve been noticing several artists adopting a more direct, decidedly more irreverent way of incorporating the lessons of classical portraiture — by mashing up contemporary and classic images and styles, dropping modern items into 18th century paintings, and otherwise augmenting and re-imagining the greats. Click through to check out our mini collection of classic/contemporary mash up portraiture and painting, and feel free to add to our collection in the comments.
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Essential Avant-Garde Films to Watch Online Right Now

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The term “avant-garde” sometimes feels like a cavernous catch-all, but when it comes to art and film, it’s most often used to describe groundbreaking work that defines and changes our view in new, unusual, or experimental ways. In the early 20th century, Modernist creatives felt drawn to cinema’s exciting technology, which provided a medium to explore untraditional artforms, animating their ideas in fascinating ways. As cinema evolved, its full potential became realized. Filmmakers proudly on the margins of commercialism overcame the hurdles of changing technology (including sound, which prevented many directors from creating experimental efforts due to high costs), bucked linear narratives, encouraged active interpetation of the works, and more.

In celebration of Criterion’s Blu-ray set compiling the movies of iconic American avant-garde filmmaker Hollis Frampton, we wanted to look back on a few essential titles that helped redefine cinema — and they’re all available to watch online right now. See our picks past the break, and feel free to drop your own links in the comments section.
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10 Famous Artists' Fascinating Alter-Egos

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Attention and behold: Marcel Duchamp… as a lady! Or, not exactly. This is more than just a giddy Surrealist in a pretty hat and a little rouge. This is Rrose Sélavy, Duchamp’s alter-ego with her own look, her own mind, even her own body of work. Sometimes artists create more than paintings and sculptures — they create people. They form whole other identities, personas. Let’s meet classic alter-egos from art history and contemporary performance practice. Be warned: Gender-bending, age-regression, metamorphosing, and dimension-crossing may occur.
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