Museumsvej 2A
DK-7500 Holstebro
+ 45 9742 4518


Ready-made, Concept, Pop & Installation Art

Since the 1960s, we have seen a series of new artistic departures, which have all contributed to changing our understanding of what actually constitutes art. Very often, the most powerful breaches of norm have occurred under the influence of the French artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968).

Early in the 20th century, Duchamp created a number of so-called ready-mades that played a part in changing artistic modes of expression as well as changing the role of the artist. The most famous of these being the work Fountain from 1917 – a urinal that Duchamp had installed on a plinth and signed, then declaring it to be art. ‘Charging’ pre-fabricated objects with new ideas in this way presented an opportunity for all manner of objects and other things not hitherto considered part of the art world to be used for the purpose of producing art.

This kind of artistic practice invites the audience to enter into a new and unusual type of dialogue with the artwork. A pre-fabricated object is given a new meaning when shown in the context of art. Hence the pivotal point will essentially be the underlying concept (idea) of the artwork. In the long-term perspective, this aspect of the ready-made developed into conceptual art. In the 1950s and 1960s, other schools of art were based on the ready-made, including neo-Realism, Fluxus, and pop art, which all possess inherent conceptual elements.

The Danish artist Albert Mertz (1920-90) was an early experimentalist working with concrete art, abstraction and, eventually, Fluxus. From 1962-76 when Albert Mertz was living in Paris, he also witnessed the blurring of boundaries between art and popular culture and he was, not least, an important messenger carrying the new international currents back to his native art scene.

Pop art becomes especially interesting in connection with Albert Mertz, because it – in line with Duchamp – distances itself to the romantic notion of the artistic genius. The devaluation of the elevated status of artwork is further intensified by pop art reintroducing everyday objects and figurative motifs. This, in turn, paves the way for popular as well as all kinds of subcultural modes of expression to merge with pop art, as seen in Dr. Lakra’s (b. 1972) works. Many of the elements outlined here are also evident in the works of Tal R (b. 1967).

In Paris, Albert Mertz carried on a fruitful dialogue with op art (optical art), which makes the work shimmer or pulsate in the eyes of the viewer by using geometric elements or optical colour mixes. In other words, the effect is the crucial element and not the artistic temperament. Over time, Albert Mertz developed his red-blue paintings which contain elements of both op art and conceptual art.

Apart from the ready-mades, Duchamp also conceived spatial works with a view to involve and activate the viewer’s manifold perceptions of sense – the so-called installation art. Martin Erik Andersen (b. 1964) works in this tradition, and he is viewed today as one of Denmark’s most prominent representatives within this field.