Funny art comes so full with sudden surrealism, intense ironies, satirical parodies and deadpan expressions of tragedies or grief that we don’t know if it even okay to laugh at. This is why humour in art is useful It can undermine a situation and, in a brief moment, draw the viewer in or allow something new out.
Matthew Collings documentary called ‘Hollow Laughter’ (1999) as part of series called ‘This is Modern Art’, it is an examination on the jokes used in modern art. He discusses, Marcel Duchamp and his No skill needed jokes, Sean Landers dumb jokes and Richard Prince’s paintings appropriating the common joke as artwork.
Marcel Duchamp’s art jokes are not all that funny but the one that started it all was the ‘Fountain’ an ordinary urinal bought in a shop and signed ‘R.Mutt’, sent to a big exhibition in York in 1917, rejected, thrown away, then the next day raised from the dead and preserved forever in the minds of conservatives as the arch icon of the Great Satan of modern art Marcel Duchamp.
“It was really, really trying to kill the artist as a, as a God by himself” – Marcel Duchamp
The artist who said anything could be art so long as an artist said it was.
Irony is at the heart of Duchamp’s output nearly all of which is preserved today in the modern art museum in Philadelphia. The main thing Duchamp did was his series of Ready-mades that already made because he just bought them from a factory or a shop, then he called them art: was just a gag at first then it became a line of works and then a world shattering paradigm shift.
They weren’t from an art world, they were from an industrial world, the world of mass production.
“Object that wouldn’t attract me either by its beauty or by its ugliness to find a point of indifference in my looking at it” – Marcel Duchamp.
Duchamp first thought that anything can be art in 1913 whether or not it’s great philosophy, it’s definitely the light bulb of Avant-Gardism came on, first moment Avant-Gardism because a name in itself something to be pursued not alongside quality but absolutely instead of quality most of us kind of think art is quality, it’s the next step up, the highest that quality can get but with Duchamp quality suddenly has a whole new meaning, one that is infinitely movable. A lot of modern art jokes are about the loss of quality in modern art.
Duchamp said the first thing his art was about was that it should amuse him, but the next thing was that it shouldn’t be about what everybody else thinks are the most fundamental basics of art, the artist’s eye and the skill of the artist’s hand.