Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Mamas and Dadaists
I have many favorite artists, many favorite paintings, and I enjoy many styles of work. But if you ask me what painting comes to mind first, it is Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending A Staircase No. 2.
The reason is pretty silly.
In sixth grade, the local college sent a student over every month to present art to our class. One week the presenter said she was going to show us "Nude descending a staircase". The teacher, Miss Keller, stopped her. (The teacher was an elderly woman whose previous teaching job had been in the very strict Catholic school in town). Miss Keller took the presenter to the hall and told her there was NO way she could show us that painting. When the presenter protested, the teacher said, "I am not allowing my class to be tainted by filth from a filthy man. He had many lovers both male and female. He thought urinals were art. Never bring anything dada into my classroom again!"
Of course, we all heard that and we were soo disappointed when the presenter left without showing us the painting. It must be really graphic if Miss Keller got that upset about it!
Imagine my voyeuristic disappointment when I actually SAW the painting in an art book. But Miss Keller's words made Duchamp be forever wonderful forbidden fruit in my mind. Maybe her association with Duchamp is one reason I love the work of a quirky potter-ess named Beatrice Wood, too!