Marcel Duchamp…hovers, like a damaged angel, over “The Price of Everything: Perspectives on the Art Market,” a think piece of a show at the Art Gallery of the Graduate Center, the City University of New York.

With his ready-mades — the mass-produced items he designated as art — Duchamp tried to redefine what art was: an active tool for thinking, rather than a passive object of looking. He also tried to demonstrate that its value was not inherent but assigned; was, in effect, completely arbitrary. So everyone was, potentially, an artist. Anything could be art.

Once Duchamp’s ready-mades started to be bought by museums, though, and he was inducted into the 20th-century canon, the power of his art was over. Resistance had itself became a commodity. Artists today are still sorting through all this. Some are still fighting Duchamp’s fight, in brainy, zany ways that he would have enjoyed.

Holland Cotter
New York Times