It was a simple, metal bottle rack, purchased in a department store, that forever changed the evolution of the art world. "Bottlerack" (1914) was Marcel Duchamp's first piece of "ready-made" art, as he called it. The artist signed the utilitarian object as is, then coined it "a sculpture." A snow shovel and a urinal soon followed. Conceptual art was born.
The Norton Simon's "Duchamp to Pop" exhibition, which opens March 4, will explore Duchamp's seismic influence on Pop artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jim Dine. About 40 works from the museum's permanent collection will be on view as well as four loans from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the collection of Jack and Joan Quinn.
Like referential art itself, the exhibition nods to previous Duchamp exhibitions at the museum, back when it was called the Pasadena Art Museum. Works from artists featured in the museum's first Pop art show, "New Painting of Common Objects" in 1962, will be on view along with 13 Duchamp works from the 1963 exhibition "Marcel Duchamp Retrospective." Visitors will see a replica, circa 1963, of the artist's "Bottlerack."
"Duchamp paved the way for so many things, not just Pop and Conceptual art," says Tom Norris, who curated the exhibition. "But a way of thinking about art which is more about the artist's intention and context."
It almost doesn't matter what the object was, Norris says. "It was the idea of transitioning the object from everyday life, putting it on a pedestal and looking at it as art."