In the early 20th century a posse of Dadaist artists dragged objects out of hardware stores and dusty closets, put them on pedistals and called them art. While typically attributed to Marcel Duchamp, the performance artist and wonderful weirdo Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven may have kicked off the idea by submitting a urinal signed 'R. Mutt' to an art show organized by Duchamp. First officially defined in André Breton and Paul Éluard's Dictionnaire abrégé du Surréalisme, a readymade is "an ordinary object elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of an artist." Readymades were intended to be a slap in the face to traditional ideas about what art is and how it's valued, and it worked.

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Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1917

Bicycle Wheel

Marcel Duchamp, 1913

Bottle Rack

Marcel Duchamp, 1914

Enduring Ornament

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1913

In Advance of the Broken Arm

Marcel Duchamp, 1915


Marcel Duchamp, 1919

Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics)

Marcel Duchamp, 1925

Why Not Sneeze, Rose Sélavy?

Marcel Duchamp, 1921
More Themes in Art

The Nude in Art

Getting out the skin

Social Realism


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