The Concept of the “Readymade”

The Concept of the “Readymade.”

The whole concept of the “readymades” originated in cubism with non artistic readymade materials being incorporated into the painting. This included materials such as newspaper, mesh, wallpaper etc. The definition of the “readymade ” is a pre-made, common, everyday object that has been altered or unaltered, that has been removed from it function/purpose and elevated to the status of art due to the actions of the artist. Duchamp to the idea of the readymade further from the cubist idea of incorporating such objects into the art, instead he realised that “any non art object on its own could be displayed as “art” is dissociated from its original context, use, meaning and function.” this displaced the idea of artist originality. The idea that nothing new could be thought of, and art becomes reworkings and replications of already imagined and realised ideas. Duchamp is considered very important in the move from modernism to post-modernism, he effectively opened a can of worms that is having an effect on art even today.


Marcel Duchamp “Fountain”(1917)

The “readymade” does not have to be an object. Artists such as Gilbert and George realised that the “readymade” could be the artists themselves. After all the human body does fit with the definition of a “readymade”, a non art material, common, everyday etc…

The concept of the “readymade” radically upgraded the importance and power of the instillation and display of the work. The simplest thing like the hight the objet is from the floor, the size of the plinth or even the lighting in the room an have a big impact on how the object is viewed.

Alongside the ideas of the “readymade” came ideas of appropriation and repetition. Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans, shoe banal replications mechanically reproached through silk printing. Although this does not constitute the “readymade” the image which he repeats is an appropriated image of a “readymade” object.


Andy Warhol “Campbell’s Soup Cans” (1962)

My work, uses readymade as the components of the work, like Duchamp the work is purely made of a singular readymade material but the material has been altered/ added together to create a whole object that is not a “readymade” object. I also work with repetition like Warhol.


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