現代美術學報 1
Journal of Taipei Fine Arts Museum 1


Uncovering the Veil — Clues Leading to a Far Eastern Interpretation of Duchamp's Work






Revered as "the father of modern art," Marcel Duchamp's idea inspired many new art forms after the 1960s. Given his profund influence on contemporary and subsequent artists, Duchamp's own work remains extremely elusive and germinates all kinds of readings. The reason perhaps is that Duchamp consistently refused to explain more directly and clearly the meanings and sources of his works and ideas.

Noticing that there did exist certain affinity between Dada and Far Eastern mysticism and that some art historians have sensed certain Oriental flavor in Duchamp's work, this researcher has set out for a comprehensive and serious investigation of Duchamp’s possible connection with the Far Eastern culture. The inquiiy includes a thourough study of Duchamp's writings, notes, correspondences, speeches, interviews with him by others and a careful re-examination of Duchamp's visual works including oil paintings, ready-mades, installations, graphic designs, machine-structures, photographs, and gestures. This research also includes a general survey of the ideas of those of Duchamp's close associates. It also makes clear that the Oriental sources were available to Duchamp when he made his works.

While the currently more popular theory about Duchamp looks at his work as mainly a cynical repudiation of traditional claims of art to significance and is in itself fragmented, gratuitous and inconsistent; this researcher will prove that not only is Duchamp's life work a spiritual process of the artist's self-discovery but also significantly coherent. Finding Duchamp's work strongly suggests a hidden involvement with certain types of Oriental iconography and symbolism, this researcher also makes every effort to decode them, The present essay is the introduction of that endeavor.