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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

On a discussion over the bizarre frindship of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney an artist friend reminded me of the piece "Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2" by Marcel Duchamp.

Salvador Dali the surrealist painter maybe best known for his piece "The Persistence of Memory" or more well known as the melting clocks is parodied still today, a convient refrence would be ""Indiana Jones and the Persistence of Memory" by  Alex Lewis part of the Super Iam8BIT Show.
Disney, you best know, attempted to make a cartoon together, but with financial problems due to World Ward 2 it was cut. Oddly, enough in 2003 it was finished with added CGI, but kept it's original recorded soundtrack, giving the feel of a Disney classic. The only place to see the film in online, the only way to keep it at home is get the Fantasia & Fantasia 2000 Special Edition Blu-ray.

I'd rather see it in HD quality, but here it is in it's entirety which is only six minutes. Since Dali died in 89 there reference points for the animation were from old notes, so it might be thought of as greatly inspired animation.

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 was brought up because of the similarities between Salvador Dali and Duchamp and their parts in art history. Nude was brought up because it also conveys motion in almost a cartoonish way. Like a long panel out of a Flash comic or a blurred view of someone moving fast across screen in a cartoon, did the piece inspire early cartoonist to convey fast motion. You usually follow art or go to art school and cover art history before becoming an illustrator or animator and the piece was created in 1918, so it was postulated, did it have an effect on animators?

If not and you hate the piece above you aren't the only one. It was rejected from the first art show it was sent into in France. Later, when put into a New York Art Show it was well despised by even  President Roosevelt, who took the time to write this

"Take the picture which for some reason is called 'A Naked Man Going Down Stairs'. There is in my bathroom a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now, if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, 'A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder', the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the 'Naked Man Going Down Stairs'. From the standpoint of terminology each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture."

My favorite line has to be from a correspondent for the NY Times who wrote it resembled a shingle factory exploding.

Art can always help you diverge into wider conversation and helps introduce new ideas, facts and history even it has nothing to do with the piece. Unless it's Superflat art from Japan, which usually doesn't have deeper meaning, and only exists as the sad emptiness of Japanese consumerism, but even in that it has meaning, values of Otaku wants and needs portrayed in pieces. Wants and needs that are unrealistic and some might consider childish, but with so many other wants and needs that others have who cares what they think. Will save the rest on Superflat style, for another look into art.