Duchamp’s Wager: Disguise, the Play of Surface and Disorder

Scanlan, John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2951-7823 (2003) Duchamp’s Wager: Disguise, the Play of Surface and Disorder. History of the Human Sciences, 16 (3). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0952-6951

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/09526951030163002


This article considers the notion of ‘play’ in the plastic arts, its relation to the materiality of the art object, and the way in which such a conception relied on a notion of aesthetic order broke down in the wake of Marcel Duchamp. I argue that Duchamp’s readymades force a re-evaluation of artistic ‘play’. It is further argued that Duchamp achieved this by employing strategies of disguise in order to trade on an epistemic play of surfaces, revealing the contingency of knowledge and identity.

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