On the Subject of the Ready-Made or Using a Rembrandt as an Ironing Board

25 Nov 2016 – 14 May 2017

Regular hours

11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry

admission free

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Mercedes-Benz Contemporary

Berlin, Germany


Travel Information

  • Varian-Fry-Str.: 200, 347
  • S+U Potsdamer Platz Bhf: S1, S2, S25; U2
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Artworks from the Daimler Art Collection selected by Bethan Huws on the occasion of 100 years of the ready-made


The exhibition “On the Subject of the Ready-Made or Using a Rembrandt as an Ironing Board” – featuring 130 works from the Daimler Art Collection selected by Welsh conceptual artist Bethan Huws – straddles the years 2016 and 2017, thus referencing the ‘double’ birthday of the ready-made as a concept and as an artistic praxis. In January 1916, Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968, F) first formulated his concept of the ready-made (the translation/transference of everyday objects into an art context) in a letter. In 1917, he submitted a urinal to a New York exhibition as a sculpture entitled “Fountain” and signed “R. Mutt 1917”.

Bethan Huws’ curatorial concept takes as its starting point the combinatorial practice, inherent logic and analytical wealth of references seen in Duchamp’s thinking. She lends these a visual presence by creating surprising juxtapositions of artworks from across a hundred years of art history, which provide a commentary on one another. The title of the exhibition, which is a quote from Duchamp, is a play on words on the famous line from Lautréamont’s “Les Chants de Maldoror” (published 1874): “As beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella.” This became a defining slogan of the Surrealists and also anticipated the ready-made in linguistic form.

Doors, glass panes or windows that simultaneously reveal and conceal are a theme that runs through the artwork of Duchamp. This prompts Bethan Huws to incorporate the bronze doors of the exhibition space into her curatorial concept: in their twinned or Janus-faced arrangement, we perceive these simultaneously as exit and entrance. In parallel with this, the artist has chosen numerous works from the collection with window/door motifs. Other recurring themes and motifs in Duchamp’s oeuvre and in Huws’ selection are: circles and targets, religious and political symbols, machines and bridges, but also colors (black/white, grey, orange, green), and the primary colors red, yellow and blue.

On another level, Marcel Duchamp’s artwork deals with more abstract concepts: nothingness and emptiness, word and image codes, reproduction and serial repetition, reality and imagination, nature and urbanism, humour and irony. Bethan Huws has discovered diverse visual references relating to all of these in the Daimler Art Collection.

The way in which Duchamp’s works are art-historically anchored in a territory between impressionism/cubism and conceptual art is reflected in Bethan Huws’ artistic concept through the incorporation of images associated with early abstract art, surrealism, documentary realism and Pop art. Last but not least, another aspect of Huws’ selection relates to Duchamp’s favoured artistic media and materials: chalk, ink, wood, photography, mechanical painting, printed graphics and object montages.

The audio guide and the accompanying booklet based on texts by Bethan Huws are significant parts of the concept.


Renate Wiehager

Renate Wiehager

Bethan Huws

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

John Nixon

John M Armleder

Sergio Fermariello

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

André Cadere

Hans/Jean Arp

John McLaughlin

Rosemarie Trockel

Tadaaki Kuwayama

Donald Judd

Konstantin Grcic

Christa Winter

Hermann Glöckner

Siegfried Cremer

Franz West

Franz West

George Grosz

Dieter Villinger

Peter Roehr

Guy Tillim

Andreas Brandt

Andreas Schmid

Greg Bogin

Viviane Sassen

Sarah Browne

Tom Sachs

Max Ackermann

Julius Heinrich Bissier

Pietro Sanguineti

Daniel Buren

Daniel Buren

Patrick Fabian Panetta

Anton Stankowski

Timm Rautert

Gerold Miller

Albert Mertz

Robert Mapplethorpe

Esteban Pastorino

Hartmut Böhm

Liu Zheng

Dieter Blum

Joseph Francis

Kiyoshi Sakamoto

Jan J. Schoonhoven

Ian Anüll

Max Burchartz

Monika Brandmeier

Johannes Itten

Zheng Guogu

Gia Edzgveradze

Adolf Richard Fleischmann

Lothar Quinte

Richard Artschwager

Bill Beckley

Blinky Palermo

Jürgen Schadeberg

Franklin Prince Knott

Günter Fruhtrunk

Roland Fischer

Poul Gernes

Camille Graeser

Timm Ulrichs

David Goldblatt

Jan Henderikse

Adolf Hölzel

Hayley Tompkins

Heimo Zobernig

Ulrike Rosenbach

Willi Baumeister

Isabell Heimerdinger

Horst Münch

Charles Rock

Josef Albers

Josef Albers

Max Bill

Leonhard Schmidt

Olivier Mosset

Dayanita Singh

Elaine Sturtevant

Taking part

Mercedes-Benz Art Collection


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