“French Window: Looking at Contemporary Art Through The Marcel Duchamp Prize”

by Mike Hamilton

Staff Writer

Mori Art Museum
Closes August 28

It is the 10th anniversary of The Marcel Duchamp Prize, an award named after the artist whom many consider was the father of contemporary art. To celebrate the prize’s success and influence, its organizers collaborated with Japanese curators to present “French Window,” an overview of the prestigious award’s past winners and finalists.

Established in 2000 by the ADIAF (Association for the international distribution of French art), a group of private and amateur contemporary art collectors, The Marcel Duchamp Prize was created to acknowledge innovative and progressive contemporary artists based in France. This exhibition showcases the best works of 10 winners and 33 finalists with the aim of revealing the diversity and evolution of France’s contemporary art scene.

Duchamp’s “readymades” — mass-produced everyday objects altered and presented as artworks — challenged the definition of contemporary art, and the first section of the show pays tribute to Duchamp’s influence with a number of his and his contemporaries’ pieces. Items on display include Duchamp’s famous urinal as well as the blacked-out windows of “French Widow,” from which the exhibition takes its title.

The following three sections host an array of boundary-pushing installations in the form of photography, sculpture, video and paintings, while the final section introduces the lifestyles of the award’s creators, with a full-scale recreation of the interior of a Parisian art-collector’s apartment.

The Marcel Duchamp Prize helped break down perceived intellectual barriers to contemporary art in France by introducing artists from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. This creation of a stronger relationship between the public and private spheres and greater accessibility to art spurred greater support, exposure and recognition of emerging artists. This exhibition could inspire Japan to attempt something similar for its own contemporary art scene.

The Mori Art Museum is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Tues. tiill 5 p.m.), admission ¥1,500. For more information, visit www.mori.art.museum.