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A Comparison Paper

By :Kathryn Oneill History of Graphic Design

Art has always had a primary focus on the beauty and aesthetics that give pieces a greater sense of significance , however its actual meaning leaves a vast amount of room for personal interpretation. Terms such as beauty or significance have no distinct denotation and allow the reader to individually translate them. What has seemingly no significance to some may have great significance to others. This is exemplified in Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain and Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup installation, which pushed the limits on the perception of what could be defined as art. Though each piece was created in a different time frame and served different purposes they were highly influential to the present day view of Art and equally challenged previous notions of aesthetic appeal.

Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”

caused quite the controversy in 1917 when it was submitted to the Society of Independent Artist. It was associated with 20th century anti cultural art and political movement known as Dada, which disregarded the previous notions of art and design. The piece itself was referred to as a ready made, otherwise known as a found object and consisted of an upside down urinal with “R. Mutt 1917” painted on its side. Its overall design served no purpose other than the stir debate and to cause a discussion of what exactly could be considered art.

Duchamp is quoted defending the relevance of R. Mutt’s piece as

“He chose it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view — created a new thought for that object” (Stanford).

This is in reference to criticism that was received over whether or not the simplistic interpretation of an inanimate object could be considered art. It brought attention to potential place for found objects in the world of art and an object’s potential ability to create a different view or significance. Duchamp was trying to make society understand that changing the way an object is viewed changes its relationship to the viewer and alters its significance entirely. Though not immediately, it eventually would display an extreme shift from the traditional definition and qualifications of “fine art” and open a world of new possibilities for creation. The fountain moved the underlying importance from craft and technique presented by the artist to the personal interpretation and meaning of the piece it self. Its design had a significant impact on the historical observation of common objects place in modern art and changed its acceptance in the Art world. This newfound idea paved the way for artist such as Andy Warhol and his development of the 32 Campbell’s soup cans.

Andy Warhol’s

“32 Campbell’s Soup Cans”

consist of 32 screen prints that replicate the variations of Campbell soup present at the time. Each soup can was placed in the center of a 20 by 16 inch canvas and displayed side by side as you would see them on display in a grocery store aisle, it took on a modular form that further extenuated the repetitive nature of the entire collection. There are slight differences from can to can but each was an accurate interpretation of the Campbell’s original design. All of the canvas went on display in 1962, in a gallery in Los Angeles and though not seen by many it grew famous due to the controversy surrounding its content. Similar to the criticisms faced by Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, critics had various opinions on Warhol’s seeming simple recreation of

an every day inanimate object. There was extensive debate over its relevance of the Campbell brand and the Soup cans to the visual creativity of art. Though unlike Duchamp, Warhol was not trying to make the public view Campbell soup from a different perspective but rather have them focus on the beauty of the way it is presented daily. He was trying to exemplify the splendor in modernity and monotonous nature of consumerism, present during the 1960’s, with the repetitive design evident through out and the mechanical process of screen-printing used to create each individual can. Even though the cans differed from ready-mades in 20th century dada movement, because they were a reproduction of an object that further incorporated artistic aesthetics, a portion of the public still had difficulty accepting the everyday object into the preconceived notion of what is art. It would soon become a defining moment in history of Art and the United States Pop Art movement because it took widely viewed items from advertising and elevated its status to that of art.

Each piece had a distinct meaning and influence on the period of time in which they were introduced. Duchamp’s meaningful political statement expressed by his blatant disregard for preconceived standards of art was the start of a revolution in personal interpretation. Duchamp’s use of a found object was meant to create dispute and draw attention to issues, where as Warhol’s use of an object was displaying the beauty of the time and show that aspect of modern society could be viewed as art. Though each expressed inherently different goals through the use of the object they created a large impact on the use of objects. Duchamp and Warhol were initially criticized for expanding the parameters of socially accepted “art”, but their bold leaps in an attempt to create lasting impression on their peers continue to be recognized through out Art today. It was because of these distinctly innovative views ordinary objects and their aesthetic importance that has allowed present day ideas in design to be cultivated.

Artist such as Daniel Spoerri & Tracey Emin, who are known for their re-creation of everyday situations into sculpture instillations, are no longer confined by a set of strict guidelines and terms but rather encouraged to explore with a wide variety of mediums and meanings.

These pieces set the stage of Art and its formal qua the possibility that Art objects if you just

e for a broader definition alities, opening minds to t can be seen in everyday t look hard enough.

Works Cited

“Andy Warhol Soup Cans.” Andy Warhol. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.

“Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato) | Post-War and Contemporary Art | Special Feature | Christie’s.” Christie’s: Fine Art Auctions and Private Sales for Contemporary, Modern, Old Master Paintings, Jewelry, Watches, Wine, Furniture & More. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.

“MoMA | The Collection | Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans. 1962.” MoMA | The Museum of Modern Art. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.

Standford, Andrew. “Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp.” Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.

The Value of an Object  

This was a comparison paper written for history of graphic design

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