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Abella, A. (2007). Marcel Duchamp: On the Fruitful use of Narcissism and Destructiveness in Contemporary Art. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88(4):1039-1059.

(2007). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 88(4):1039-1059

Marcel Duchamp: On the Fruitful use of Narcissism and Destructiveness in Contemporary Art

Adela Abella

Considering Marcel Duchamp's work, this paper raises the question as to the nature of the subjective experience proposed by contemporary art to today's audience. Approaching art through the concept of sublimation, Freud maintains a fundamentally optimistic and positive view, putting forward its libidinal and sexual aspects, the pursuit of pleasure, beauty, and omnipotence. Following the path opened by Freud through the concept of the “uncanny', most post-Freudian authors have proposed a “blacker' image of artistic endeavour, allowing the expression of aggression. From a perspective which is neither that of an art historian nor a moralist, the author proposes the idea that certain propositions of contemporary art may allow the viewer to live narcissistic and destructive fantasies, via culturally sanctioned and socially acceptable means. The recognition of the fertile use of destruction as a condition of the emergence of the new, on the one hand, as well as the legitimacy of the expression through art of the most primitive fantasies and the right to non-communication, on the other, are postulated as constructs for a non-normative, non-judgemental psychoanalytic approach to the cultural world.

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