Apostrophe Duchamp is the first book in A+a Document Series. The book explores the effect of the touring exhibition of Marcel Duchamp's work through-out Australia and New Zealand had on local artistic practice and debate.
In 1967 and 1968 an exhibition of Marcel Duchamp's ground-breaking avant-garde art, from the Mary Sisler Collection, toured New Zealand and Australia. The exhibition included some of the most famous of Duchamp's readymades, such as the Bicycle Wheel and the inverted urinal, Fountain. The exhibition's arrival in Sydney and Melbourne in 1968 coincided with the visit of the eminent and controversial US art critic Clement Greenberg, who delivered the first Power Lecture at the University of Sydney. In his lecture, Avantgarde Attitudes, Greenberg swiped at Duchamp's ready-mades for being 'easy' art. The same year the National Gallery of Victoria re-opened on St Kilda Road with The Field, an exhibition of so-called colour field painting.
The following year Donald Brook delivered a riposte to Greenberg, and to the critical theory sustaining post-painterly abstraction, in his Power Lecture, Flight from the Object. A battleground had formed. This book, the first in the series of Documents from Art+Australia, charts the dramatic juncture of these competing and combative artistic orientations, and the stakes in what increasingly became, with the emergence of conceptual art and expanded artistic media, a challenge to modernist orthodoxy.