Write 2 pages thesis on the topic marcel duchamp’s readymade fountain(1917). Marcel Duchamp’s readymade piece of art d Fountain was presented in 1917. He signed his art R. Mutt and submitted it to the Society of Independent Art. The Society of Independent Art made the claim to show every piece submitted. They never showed Duchamp’s Fountain. It might be because even the sensibilities of the most liberal artist in 1917 might be offended by a urinal positioned on its back. Duchamp’s Fountain represents different things to different people. This readymade art truly shows art is in the eye of the beholder. While this piece would not make a good home decoration, it should be admired for the boldness of the statement. Every artist has the right to display their art, whether offensive or not. Duchamp’s message in the end was ignored. This piece of art is not about a urinal, but what can be considered art to artists. Duchamp was a legitimate artist. However, he wanted to find art in ordinary objects. Duchamp was probably tired of pompous artists creating art to become famous.

Saltz explains: Duchamp adamantly asserted that he wanted to “de-deify” the artist. The readymades provide a way around inflexible either-or aesthetic propositions. They represent a Copernican shift in art. Fountain is what’s called an “acheropoietoi,” an image not shaped by the hands of an artist.1 A true artist could find art in anything. Duchamp wanted to poke fun at galleries that deemed it their prerogative to decide what was art and what was not. He sought to undermine the notion of the sacred uniqueness of the artistic object, asking: If you put a mass-reproduced toilet in a gallery and sign it “R Mutt”, does that make it art? It was a paradoxical gesture – “can one make a work of art that is not a work of art?”

2 Artists are not Gods that create life. Duchamp wanted people to realize this with the Fountain. He wanted people to look beyond what artists were saying were art. Duchamp wanted people to look beyond. Fountain was rejected in 1917 despite the obvious advancement it made to the contemporary art movement in America. Not everybody then, or even now looks at a urinal and thinks of it as a fountain. However, if you look closely at the design it is a fountain. A fountain provides clean water. A urinal also provides clean water to wash away urine. Duchamp wanted viewers to look beyond the purpose of the urinal and into a natural beauty. The gleaming white porcelain, gracious curves, and geometrical shape of holes in the back are all beautiful when taken into consideration by themselves. Duchamp wanted his readymade to be a contradiction.

3 A thing normally thought of as disgusting could be beautiful and a piece of art. Today Fountain is seen as one of the most influential pieces of the 20th century.

4 Fountain also can be viewed in a historical context. This piece was displayed during World War I. While many men were dying in trenches in Europe, rich men were using urinals without a thought. While men were dying in their own urine and feces wanting a drop of water, men were flushing these objects without a thought away from the war. Duchamp was showing the differences between a poor soldier and a rich businessman. Duchamp had several purposes for creating Fountain. The first was to poke fun at artists that took themselves a little too seriously. Secondly, he wanted people to look beyond purpose and find true art. Finally, Duchamp wanted to show the differences between rich and poor. Fountain achieved all of these purposes. It takes a true viewer to see a piece of art from a urinal laying one its back. Duchamp succeeded in showing art is in the eye of the beholder.


BBC. “Duchamp’s urinal tops art survey.” 1 December 2007. BBC. Accessed 11 June 2011 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4059997.stm Girst, Thomas. “Using Marcel Duchamp: The Concept of the Readymade in Post-War and Contemporary American Art.” Apr. 2003.

Tout-fait: the Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal. Accessed 11 June 2011 from http://www.toutfait.com/issues/volume2/issue_5/articles/girst2/girst1.html Saltz, Jerry. “Idol Thoughts.” 21 Feb. 2006.

Voice Art. Accessed 11 June 2011 from http://www.villagevoice.com/2006-02-21/art/idol-thoughts/ West, Patrick. “He was just taking a piss.” 13 Dec. 2004. New Statesman. Accessed 11 June 2011 from http://www.newstatesman.

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