Marcel Duchamp was one of the few artists who managed to change the whole course of art history. However, in his early work he followed a more conservative tradition, assimilating the lessons of Cubism, Futurism and Symbolism. He painted the portrait of Ivona Duchamp, when he was 14.
He later gave up painting completely, explaining that “I was interested in ideas—not merely in visual products.” (Duchamp, as quoted in “Eleven Europeans in America,” James Johnson Sweeney (ed.), The Museum of Modern Art Bulletin (New York), vol. 13, no. 4/5, 1946, p. 20)
“Ready mades,” changed the definition of artist as a skilled creator of original work. Instead, “An ordinary object [could be]elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of an artist.” His “Fountain”, 1917, is regarded by art historians as the major landmark in the 20-th century art. The artwork was first rejected by the Society of Independent Artists, even though the rules stated that all work will be accepted from artists, who paid the fee. The original was lost, and 17 further replicas now exist, commissioned by Duchamp.