As forms go, the readymade is a slippery one. Its originator, Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), spoke of it as “a form of denying the possibility of defining art.” Now, as the form nears its 100th anniversary—Duchamp made his Bicycle Wheel in 1913—the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents It is what it is. Or is it?, a group exhibition that explores how the form has changed. If any one characteristic of the form is consistent, it is not only formal, but also philosophical. The readymade unites material concerns with the invisible function of thought.
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