Marcel Duchamp talks with Martin Friedman, Walker Art Center director (1961-1990), about the readymade. October 18, 1965
MF: One of the things we are, of course, tremendously interested idea is in the whole idea of the ready made. We’re familiar with the concept of junk sculpture. This is something that such artists as Dankievitch and even Picasso in earlier days more or less advanced. To pick up an object which was made for an entirely different use, possibly a discarded object, which because of its shape and its patination, it’s configuration suggests another possibility, It maybe a very satisfying texture a very romantic kind of quality about the piece, in other words, it became a kind of chosen object but chosen for aesthetic reasons.
In what respect does junk sculpture differ from the concept of the ready made, let’s say for example the bottle rack or the bicycle wheel
MD: This was of course the difficulty when it came to my mind, but that was back in 1915 when I applied the word readymade to these objects. In fact I only made 13 of them in my life, in 40 years, so its not a very much of an occupation, but even so (laughter) even so, I mean, the fact of choosing, of selecting and deciding on ONE was the result of being very careful about not using my sense of beauty or my belief in some aesthetics of some kind. In other words, finding some object of complete indifference as far as aesthetics are concerned, and ah, that indifference is very difficult because there is always some detail in any object that will attract you aesthetically, meaning that you will find it beautiful or even ugly, which is the same thing. Ugly or beautiful is the same thing when it comes to choosing an object in the form of a ready made, by ready made also, the idea is being made by, either manufactured or made by another person can be a ready made too, you see. I even remember signing a big painting in a restaurant for the pleasure of calling it ready made you see ? and of course it was not manufactured (laughter) so of course I couldn’t take the painting with me because it was attached to the wall, but this explains that the difficulty is to make people understand that it was not through the attraction of the beauty of the object that I would call it ready made, that’s why I made so few because . . . after a certain while anything becomes beautiful, you know ? It take 40 years sometimes from my, what is it called, bottle rack to become . . .people say it’s so beautiful and it’s the worst compliment they can give me.