“Duchamp to Pop”- A Must-See Exhibit
Leticia Marie Sanchez
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This week’s Cultural Cocktail Hour involves a Pinch of Parody, a Dose of Double Entendre, and a Highball of Warhol- Bottom’s Up!
“Duchamp to Pop” is a must-see exhibit in Southern California due to the wit of Marcel Duchamp and his influence on the Pop Art Movement.
CCH loves any exhibit where you can unleash your inner art detective; “Duchamp to Pop” lends itself to peeling back layers of culture and indulging in wordplay and irony.
Cheeky puns are the name of the game. For instance, when one usually thinks of the Mona Lisa, one imagines crowds of tourists lining up to see a dignified work encased behind glass, vigilantly guarded by museum security.
Quite to the contrary, Marcel Duchamp’s mischievous Mona Lisa, La Joconde, bears an absurd mustache, and the letters L.H.O.O.Q. When read aloud, they form the French Phrase, “Elle a chaud au cul,” a risqué commentary on this fine lady’s posterior.
Don’t laugh at my mustache.
I dare you.
A second word game in the exhibit involves Duchamp’s signature: Rrose Sélavy, a pun which evokes the French phrase: “Eros, c’est la vie,” or “Eros, that’s life.”
What does it mean when we gaze upon a mustachioed Mona Lisa? Simply, that we need not take Art, nor ourselves for that matter, so seriously. Art should not signify untouchable pieces on museum walls, but rather, the creativity that we can engender in our daily lives.
The humor and parody continue chronologically in the exhibit with Pop Artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol’s Brillo Pads, and Pop Art in general, exposed the mass marketing that dominated the post-war era.
An Andy Warhol Soup Can sold originally sold for a measly $100. Now these cans can be found in the purview of princes and oligarchs. (Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash” sold in 2013 for $105 million).
A bit ironic, that a movement that exposed American dependence on brands, had at its helm, an artist, Andy Warhol, who, himself became a brand. The reason that Warhol’s paintings can command stratospheric sums (and other artists cannot), is because of the name recognition. Like a Rolls Royce or a Patek Phillipe, a work by Warhol has clearly recognizable brand, and thereby, status significance.
The works of the Pop Artists embody parody and satire. Through this movement, we can chuckle at wordplay and irony. And Andy Warhol could laugh all the way to the bank.
Colored reproduction, heightened with pencil and white gouache, Edition of 35, No. 6 (Arturo Schwartz edition)
comp: 10-1/4 x 7 in. (26.0 x 17.8 cm); sheet: 11-3/4 x 7-7/8 in. (29.8 x 20.0 cm)
Norton Simon Museum P.1969.094. Image Courtesy of Norton Simon.
1928-1987 Silkscreen on paper 35-1/2 x 23-1/8 in. (90.2 x 58.7 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase, 1969 P.1969.062.08. Image Courtesy of Norton Simon.