Hello, I'm Milo for About.com, and today we are talking about Marcel Duchamp. Marcel Duchamp was a French artist who is often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Born July 28, 1887 in Blainville-Crevon, he is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Marcel Duchamp was raised in Normandy in a family of artists and his parents Eugene and Lucie Duchamp encouraged their children to spend time playing chess, reading, painting, and playing music. Although Duchamp was not an outstanding student he did show special skills in mathematics and drawing as a child, winning prizes at school and being praised for his abilities in these areas. His works and thinking about art influenced the developments of post WWI Western art by challenging conventional thought about artistic processes. During his career as an artist he produced relatively few works of art and eventually abandoned art altogether to devote himself to chess. He studied art in The Académie Julian and his first artwork to cause controversy was Nude Descending a Staircase which depicts the mechanistic motion of a nude woman as she walks down a staircase. This piece has elements of fragmentation and shows how Duchamp was influenced, at the time, by cubism and futurism. He is best known for his readymades which were found objects he chose and presented as art. A term he invented, readymades came to designate mass-produced everyday objects taken out of their context and raised to the status of artworks by the artist by placing them in an art context. The readymades questioned the very notion of art. One of the first exhibited readymades was Bottlerack which was a simple bottle drying rack signed by Duchamp. This was followed by Fountain which was a urinal he signed with one of his pseudonyms R. Mutt, this is perhaps his most famous and studied piece among art students around the world. Duchamp defended that art should be an expression of the mind. He became an almost cult figure for generations of artists who refused to follow conventions and was committed to taking art to new intellectual and conceptual levels. For more helpful, interesting, and insightful information on art history check us out at About.com.