Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The High Modernism of Milton Babbitt and Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp, To Be Looked at (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour [detail], 1918 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

"Why refuse to recognize the possibility that contemporary music has reached a stage long since attained by other forms of activity? The time has passed when the normally well-educated man without special preparation could understand the most advanced work in, for example, mathematics, philosophy, and physics."   - Milton Babbitt, Who Cares if You Listen?, 1958

"When painting becomes so low that laymen talk about it, it doesn't interest me. Do we dare to talk about mathematics? No! Painting shouldn't become a fashionable thing. And money, money, money comes in and it becomes a Wall Street affair."    - Marcel Duchamp, The New Yorker, 1957

"I don't believe in the sacred mission of the painter. My attitude toward art is that of an atheist toward religion. I would rather be shot, kill myself, or kill somebody else, than paint again. Anyway, I quit long ago, and took up chess.   - Marcel Duchamp, The New Yorker, 1942

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The endgame problem "White to play and win" that he left to the world at his death, is worth a visit. There is likely no solution but that is clearly not the point... - Roshi

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