Alex Hamburger: “The breakthrough tradition: anti-art and poetry by other means”
About a century ago, the art world put an end to conventional notions of originality and replication with Duchamp’s ready-mades, the mechanical drawings of Francis Picabia, and Walter Benjamin’s much-quoted essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of mechanical reproduction’. Since then, an entourage of artists, from Andy Warhol to Matthew Barney, has taken these ideas to new heights, resulting in very complex notions of identity, media, and culture. This has become so much a part of the mainstream discourse of the art world, that contrary reactions, based on genuineness and representation, have emerged. Culture seems to be embracing such technologies and all the complexity they involve, with the exception of writing, which is still mostly committed to the promotion of an authentic and stable identity at every level.