In Infinite Regress, David Joselit considers the plurality of identities and practices within Duchamp's life and art between 1910 and 1941, conducting a synthetic reading of his early and middle career.
There is not one Marcel Duchamp, but several. Within his oeuvre Duchamp practiced a variety of modernist idioms and invented an array of contradictory personas: artist and art dealer, conceptualist and craftsman, chess champion and dreamer, dandy and recluse. In Infinite Regress, David Joselit considers the plurality of identities and practices within Duchamp's life and art between 1910 and 1941, conducting a synthetic reading of his early and middle career. Taking into account underacknowledged works and focusing on the conjunction of the machine and the commodity in Duchamp's art, Joselit notes a consistent opposition between the material world and various forms of measurement, inscription, and quantification. Challenging conventional accounts, he describes the readymade strategy not merely as a rejection of painting, but as a means of producing new models of the modern self.
David Joselit is Professor and Chair in the Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University. His most recent book, Heritage and Debt: Art in Globalization (MIT Press), received the 2021 Robert Motherwell Book Award.
Duchamp's oeuvre is a kind of labyrinth through which few art historians have managed to come out with all their sanity: Joselit's work provides a remarkably original guide for it, and demonstrates, with radically new means, the centrality of Duchamp's oeuvre in this century.
Yve-Alain Bois, Joseph Pulitzer Jr. Professor of Modern Art, Harvard University