From the Old World to the New

Tuesday 24 July 2012, 12:30PM
By Victoria University


The extent of renowned French artist Marcel Duchamp's influence on New Zealand artists and his place in our cultural history are explored in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery.

'Peripheral Relations: Marcel Duchamp and New Zealand Art 1960-2011' opens 28 July.

Gallery Director Christina Barton says Marcel Duchamp (1888-1968) is considered to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

"He is known especially for redefining what art could be. Amongst his most notorious works are his 'readymades'—store-bought items he deprived of their usual function, the first of which was his Bicycle Wheel of 1913, in which he attached a bicycle wheel to a stool in his studio as a totally new kind of sculpture," says Ms Barton.

Duchamp began his career in Paris, moving to New York during the First World War. He had a habit of travelling between Europe and America which ensured his influence extended to both sides of the Atlantic and which led him to devise ways of making art that suited his mobile lifestyle. In the 1960s Duchamp was championed by a new generation of younger artists who were keen to find alternatives to conventional ways of making art. This led to a new wave of interest in his work, which was fanned by touring exhibitions and publications.

"It was this second wave of interest in Duchamp that impacted directly on New Zealand," says Marcus Moore, curator of the exhibition, whose PhD research is the basis for the show.

"New Zealand was only the third country to host a major survey of Duchamp’s work in 1967, and it has been one of my goals to see what effect this show had on artists here, as well as to track Duchamp’s wider influence on the culture."

Moore's discoveries have led him to work closely with artists and institutions to stage a major gathering of artworks across three generations. At the centre of the exhibition are items by Duchamp which were gifted to the National Art Gallery in 1983. These include one of his "Box-in-a-suitcase" (Boîte-en-valise, Series D 1961), a miniature museum of many of his iconic works stored in a specially designed suitcase which he made and circulated during his lifetime.

"The Duchamp works gifted to New Zealand's National Art Gallery are a treat in themselves," says Ms Barton. "They have not been shown all together for a very long time, so we are delighted Te Papa agreed to lend them."

This rare opportunity is matched by many unique works by New Zealand artists. These include pieces that have been especially reconstructed for the occasion, or that have seldom if ever been shown publicly, as well as major pieces by some of our best known contemporary artists.

"This show sets out a new way of thinking about our recent art history," says Ms Barton. “As a university gallery we are committed to exposing audiences to new approaches to our rich art history. This exhibition will surprise and intrigue, at the same time posing interesting questions about how influential ideas can shape art practice."

In addition to Marcel Duchamp it includes works by: Jim Allen, Billy Apple, Bruce Barber, g. bridle, L. Budd, Bill Culbert, Paul Cullen, Julian Dashper, Andrew Drummond, et al, Merit Gröting, Adrian Hall, Terrence Handscomb, Christine Hellyar, Giovanni Intra, Betty Isaacs, Julius Isaacs, Darcy Lange, Maddie Leach, Len Lye, Kieran Lyons, Daniel Malone, Julia Morison, Michael Parekowhai, Roger Peters, Malcolm Ross, Marie Shannon, Michael Stevenson, and Boyd Webb.

It will be accompanied by a public programme drawing on a range of themes present in the exhibition, as well as a catalogue with notes on each artist and an introduction by Marcus Moore.

What: Peripheral Relations: Marcel Duchamp and New Zealand Art 1960-2011

Where: Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University, Kelburn Campus. Access to the Adam Art Gallery is via Gates 1, 2 and 7 on Kelburn Parade or via pedestrian footpath from Mount Street. Gate 3 is currently closed due to construction. Please visit for a map and route information. This is also available at Gate 3.

When: 28 July–7 October 2012, Tuesday–Sunday, 11am-5pm

Free entry.