Instytut Historii Sztuki <Posen> [Editor]
Artium Quaestiones — 5.1991

Page: 99
DOI issue: DOI article: DOI Page: Citation link: 
https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/artium_quaestiones1991/0129
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PIOTR JUSZKIEWICZ

THE DESIGNS AND SKETCHES OF MARCEL DUCHAMP

When we turn to the design or sketch of a complete work of art
and wish to study it more closely, to gain an insight into the artist's
intentions, to the mysteries of the creative imagination, we always
presume that preparatory phase is characterised by a certain
innocence. The conviction about the innocence of the sketch is
a conviction about its direct connection to the original creative
impulse which underlies the work. It is also a conviction that the
direct notation lays bare the original intention, as yet untransformed
by the formative act of creation.
The stripping of the work, or rather the conviction about such
a stripping, is accompanied by a conviction about the stripping of
the artist, his personality, attitudes, preferences, all noted down in
the sketch and possible to be discovered by a critic with a grap-
hological turn of mind. The sketch is thus innocent, as it does not
hide anything, and sometimes reveals more than the work itself
might perhaps wish to do. Duchamp's notes and sketches have
always been included in the interpretations of his work. What is
more, it seems that due to the enigmatic nature of his works, such
as the Large Glass and Etant donnes, attempts at interpreting them
cannot be successful without the help of the design — its notes and
drawings. All the more so, as Duchamp himself had often encouraged
students and critics to use his notes — in the first place, through
their continuous publication (from small editions of the thirties to
the complete ones on Sanouillet or the selections of Schwarz), and,
secondly, through suitable declarations when giving interviews. The
artist pointed to the importance of his notes by addressing his artistic
creativity, or so he claimed, to the intellect and not to the contem-
plating eye. He also referred critics (usually not directly) to the
various fragments of his annotated oeuvre.
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