Art and Intention

1. Summarize the reaction of the public to Michelangelo’s David and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.
When Michelangelo’s David was finished, many citizens were outraged by the nudity presented. People tried to vandalize it so guards were hired to protect the work. It became such a problem that eventually a skirt of copper leaves had to be placed on the art piece to cover up nudity.   Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase also caused a controversy. However, it was more that people did not understand the meaning behind the work. People were confused because they could not find an actual woman in the art piece.
  2. What did contemporary viewers find objectionable about each work?
Viewers found the male nudity in Michelangelo’s piece to be objectionable. Viewers of the Nude Descending a Staircase found the piece misleading. When it was first viewed, many in the audience thought of it as mocking. Viewers found it misleading because they could not actually point out a woman in the picture. Marcel used overlapping images that the audience may not have been use to therefore, they did not understand it.
  3. What are the reasons behind Duchamp’s innovative approach to human form?
He was attempting to show the human form throughout different motions. His piece includes 20 different views of a female body. Instead of placing each view next to the other, he overlapped the images combining the styles of Cubism and Futurism.
  4. Does knowledge of the artist’s inspiration enhance your appreciation of Nude Descending a Staircase?
Yes, I find this piece to be interesting. I really liked how Marcel overlapped the images so the viewers would really have to examine the picture. That is exactly what I did when I first saw it. I looked at this picture for ten minutes trying to find the different images. I’m unsure of what I saw, but that’s what makes it interesting.