Ordinary Culture and Radical Subversion in Duchamp's "L.H.O.O.Q."

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ORDINARY CULTURE AND RADICAL SUBVERSION IN DUCHAMP’S “L.H.O.O.Q.” There is no question that the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp in the early 20th century was radical, subversive and deeply defiant of prevailing and traditional cultural values and tastes in the time he lived in, and an exemplification of this is his 1919 piece L.H.O.O.Q. But when examining his works it may be clear to what extent Duchamp was simply setting out to defy or destroy the past, and whether the “anti-art” movement truly was opposed to art in and of itself. However anyone so important to the history of art cannot be so easily dismissed as abjectly and single-mindedly opposed to the milieu in which he worked and influenced so many; “even the abolition of art is respectful of art because it takes the truth claim of art seriously” (Adorno 1970). Under further examination of L.H.O.O.Q. and other pieces in his oeuvre, it becomes clear that Duchamp’s intention was not simply to destroy art, but to expand our conceptions of it, challenge it, and in doing so enrich it, and even underscore the artists and artistic traditions that preceded him. Within the context of an interpretation of Duchamp and his work within the field of Cultural Studies it becomes necessary to understand how Duchamp fit within the distinction between “culture as perfect” and “culture as ordinary”; he was present turning the turning point between the eras of those two definitions, and we may consider his work as it relates to both possible conceptions, and whether it had a role in challenging them. To begin with this context we must consider Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance masterpiece painting, the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is certainly the most famous portrait in the world and one of the most recognizable images in the world of any sort, highly important in the history of art and western culture in general,
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