David Carrier, on Jeff Koons, for Art Critical. Carrier enters the stage defining readymades:
A ready-made sculpture has an essentially ambiguous, philosophically fascinating double identity: It is a work of art; it is a functional artifact, a tool.Now he asks, how can they also be works or art?
Because ready-mades literally consist of commonplace objects, understanding why the artist selected them, when—after all—there are so many artifacts available– provokes commentary. And because our styles of toolmaking have changed drastically, the history of the ready-made provides an historical perspective on our culture.Wait, Putin's personality, dog grooming and alien abduction also provoke commentary. & the history of the ready made is not why readymades have a history.
Readymades are not EZ, the reason being that they thrive precisely at the limit of the made/non-made distinction —so valuable for art and art history. But that has nothing to do with why they make it to the class of art/objects (& this is not the moment to settle the issue).
Sometimes one writes as disjointed as geiger noise pouring from a radioactive box.
I value Carrier as a writer, having enjoyed his Principles of Art History Writing (professor Alan Goldman at UM introduced me to it) and his better book on Poussin.
The reason of why art is art can withstand loads of (generally redundant) deductions, however, Carrier's brief cogitation on Kuns & readymades is bunk.