Play with the Bicycle Wheel, please…

duchamp bycicle wheel

The Bicycle Wheel – one of Marcel Duchamps first ‘readymades’ – has always begged me to play with it. I read a little about Duchamp just now, and found that it was made for exactly that purpose.  It is also connected very closely with creativity and the generation of ideas.

To quote Duchamp: “The Bicycle Wheel is my first readymade, so much so that at first it wasn’t even called a readymade. It still had little to do with the idea of the readymade. Rather it had more to do with the idea of chance. In a way, it was simply letting things go by themselves and having a sort of created atmosphere in a studio, an apartment where you live. Probably, to help your ideas come out of your head. To set the wheel turning was very soothing, very comforting, a sort of opening of avenues on other things than material life of every day. I liked the idea of having a bicycle wheel in my studio. I enjoyed looking at it, just as I enjoyed looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace. It was like having a fireplace in my studio, the movement of the wheel reminded me of the movement of flames.”

So: the Bicycle wheel is meant to be played with.

The original of the Bicycle Wheel was lost.  After Duchamp moved to New York, his sister threw the Bicycle Wheel out as useless junk.  Today, there are a considerable number of replicas displayed in various museums.  Nowhere is the turning of the wheel permitted…..