Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2015

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art and Art History

First Advisor

Dreiss, Joseph

Second Advisor

Garmon, Carole

Major or Concentration

Art History


This research focuses on the readymades of Marcel Duchamp and the impact made by these influential "anti-art" sculptures on the value of aesthetics in art. Duchamp's readymades and the concepts that informed them have had a profound influence on art since the mid 20th century. In American art, Duchamp's influence is a determinant of the art of the Neo-Dadaists of the 1950s, whose works blur the line of distinction between art and life. Readymades were created by Duchamp as a solution to what he called "retinal art," and were intended to provoke thought from the viewer on the nature of art more so than to illicit a response to the visual object. Duchamp's readymades were initially met with much disparagement. Though some art critics look fondly on Duchamp's experimental art, many take a decidedly negative stance. One such critic, Donald Kuspit, believes strongly that the work of Duchamp signals the end of fine art altogether. Because of its denial of aesthetics, Duchamp's work has had major consequences which both positively and negatively affect the nature and value of the aesthetic experience.