Bethan Huws
L´arbre, 2016

In the 1960s, Marcel Duchamp used a number of labels and his signature to authorize the creation of replicas of his readymade Porte-bouteilles [Bottle dryer], which he bought in 1914 in a Paris department store and which was lost at an early stage. The artist told the story of the first readymade in the course of many conversations with acquaintances and art critics. Today, the ‘invention’ of the readymade is part of art history and the lost ‘original’ of the bottle dryer has acquired its own unique aura in artistic discussions. The conceptual artist Bethan Huws has been very closely involved with the work of Marcel Duchamp since the end of the 1990s. In her sculpture L’arbre [the tree], 2016, she physically transfers the art-historical ‘aura’ of the Porte-bouteilles in the form of a light drawing into a contemporary discourse on art. Also in Huws’ interpretation, the bottle dryer itself is no longer present, but can only be imagined by means of the neon outline. The title of the work moves the practical object back into the context of nature, to the extent that a bottle dryer can be seen as a tree in both metaphorical and formal terms. Trees are a recurring motif in the work of Marcel Duchamp. “All works of art are linguistic by nature. Not one of them would exist without language. All artworks are linguistic constructions.” (B.H.).

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