Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain Essay

1784 WordsMar 17, 20118 Pages
Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain by Sarah Shea HUMN406-01 Professor Nelson Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain People often ask what constitutes good art. Who decides whether or not a piece is art and whether it is good art or not? Marcel Duchamp challenged popular notions of his day about what art actually is. Duchamp, a French artist living in New York at the turn of the century, believed that it was up to the artist to determine what art is. Duchamp is most famous for a type of sculpture he created called “readymades”1. Readymades are ordinary functional household objects that have either been joined to other objects, or chosen to stand alone as sculpture. Examples of his readymades include a coat hanger nailed to the floor of his studio, a hat…show more content…
There was much ado over these happenings. Articles appeared in major newspapers regarding it, but still no one knew who Richard Mutt was. An article also appeared in The Blind Man, an art journal Duchamp himself published. The anonymous author of the article defended the Fountain as art and went on to say “The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges." 3 This was the early 1900’s, so at this time the idea of “modern art” was still fairly new. People were starting to get use to it, but were not comfortable enough to be introduced to something such as Fountain. A bathroom fixture, especially a urinal, was considered too inappropriate, and was even said to be immoral. In that same article in The Blind Man, the author defends Fountain on this matter by saying, “Now Mr. Mutt's fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bath tub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' show windows.” This is a very true statement; after all, bathtubs are not considered immoral are they? However, it being a urinal, and because of its reference to unpleasant bodily functions, it may seem inappropriate to have to study and examine it for any period of time, like art is suppose to be studied. This is certainly valid reasoning. Perhaps, however, because the urinal was flipped onto its back, and called “Fountain” rather than “Urinal”, it is divorced from the whole bathroom scene, 3 Marcel Duchamp himself most

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