Mike Bidlo - Under the Influence New York Monday, March 31, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zürich

  • Catalogue Essay

    Francis Naumann:
    I look at your work as though I were playing a game of chess. At a glance, you see a simple one-to-one relationship between your work and Duchamp's, like say, between his original Fountain and your many variations. But that's just one level of understanding; if someone really wants to know what your work is all about, then they are forced to make the next move, think a bit more deeply and advance the game to a new level.
    Mike Bidlo:
    Right - almost like peeling the successive layers of an onion. But...I'm not consciously playing chess with Duchamp. I don't see myself in an oppositional role at all. If anything, I complement him by introducing new levels of meaning to the work. With Fountain, I bring a symbolist aspect to the piece that I think was always implied but never really acknowledged by Duchamp himself.I remember the first time I showed my Desmoiselles d'Avignon, I called it She Works Hard for the Money, which is the title of a Donna Summer song from the early eighties. I vividly remember listening to it repeatedly as I painted it. It seemed appropriate on several levels. The urinal and the Rower painting in my Origins of the World are works of art that have been traditionally identified with sexual forms - even though both O'Keeffe and Duchamp might not have intended that to be the case. They are visually androgynous, and when combined, they ignite each other's meaning. Ultimately, they assume complementary positions like Yin and Yang - they are a modernist balancing act - a metaphysical Mobius strip.
     When Bidlo remakes a work of art, he usually calls it "Not-whomever." Each of the paintings in his Léger series, for example, is called Not Léger, followed by the title of the Léger painting he chose to replicate. The Duchamps are all called Not Duchamp in other words, you can call them anything you want, except Duchamp. He is making it clear that you should not confuse the two, and that one should not be considered a simple substitute for the other. In the case of combining two works - as he does in Origins of the World - the historical implications are quite complex, for there was a physical relationship between Stieglitz and O'Keeffe, one that is obviously played upon through the combination of these two images. Moreover, it was Stieglitz who took the original photograph of the urinal on its back against a painting by Marsden Hartley, so the ultimate meaning of this work has to be played through these various historical associations: from Courbet to O'Keeffe, from O'Keeffe to Stieglitz, from Stieglitz to Duchamp, from Duchamp to Hartley and, finally, although most importantly, from all of these artists to Bidlo. To arrive at a complete aesthetic experience, in John Dewey's terms, you have to know everything.succe
     Mike Bidlo in conversation with Francis Naumann and Arthur Danto, from paolacurti.comssive


Not Duchamp (Bicycle Wheel, 1913)

Mixed media assemblage. 
50 3/4 x 25 1/5 x 13 1/3 in. (128.9 x 64 x 33.9 cm).

$30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for $31,000

Under the Influence

31 Mar 2008, 10am & 2pm
New York