Published by The Museum of Modern Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art
Edited by Anne D’Harnoncourt and Kynaston Mcshine
Leonardo Da Vinci, Cezanne, or Picasso? Who is most famous artist in western art history? It could be all three of them. However, at after 20th century, so as in age of modern art, the Marcel Duchamp is one of most famous and important artist. There are all kinds of extraordinary works of art of him, and one of most famous work is Fountain. As you see, this work is man‘s urinal. Will this art? So to speak conclusion first, the answer is “Yes”.
Let’s take a look one by one, how could this urinal be a art work. In 1917, this work exhibited at Salon des Artistes Independents hosted the United States independence artist association. This work was enough to be the talk of the town as it is now. At fist time, this work flatly refused to exhibit from the host, because this work can be seen for fun. Even though, in Salon des Artistes Independents, anyone can participated in if they pay exhibition expense 6 million dollars, after long discussion, operation committee member decide that this work is not for Salon des Artistes Independents.(In 1917, this first work remain just as picture by photographer whose name is Stieglitz, second one is in 1951, and Third 8 works that ordered as limited edition remain until now.) Duchamp signed ‘R. MUTT 1917 in urinal, instead of his name, R. MUTT is the name of manufacturer of lavatory products who made this urinal.
Duchamp hide himself completely, because the only thing he does that he gets existing urinal, signed it and he turn that in, so we can not blame him. Prior to this, Duchamp already has done his work that he does not make it by himself. These are Bottle Rack in 1915 and the work name of “In Advance of the Broken Arm.” The one is as it says wine bottle rack and the other one is big spade when you shovel the snow. Urinal, bottle rack, and snow spade are mass-produced ready- made goods from the factory.
Duchamp put ready made goods as a work of art after he sign on goods. The fact that ready made goods has some artist’s signature, that means common subjects move to art area. The role of traditional artist is that reproducing some subjects or situations as realistically. However, after Duchamp’s attempt, now artist does not remain just reproducing, artist being dispread that they has to speak and suggest actively.
Once we step into the 20 century , art field was changed due to appearance of Marcel Duchamp. Before Marcel Duchamp, artists just revive situation and objects with painting and sculpture in their art works. However, after Marcel Duchamp, art works do not reappear as traditional and direct of painting and sculpture any more, but actively suggest. It means that the creative act is not performed by the artist alone. Artist and viewer has to be together, and because of that communication can be possible. In other words, the age that artist and viewer can communicate with art work as a media, opened.
Let’s back to Fountain. Fountain has shape that man’s urinal lay down at an angle of 90 degree on the pedestal. Regarding this way, Duchamp identify ready made products with the statue. Also, he puts urinal on the pedestal, and tries to look like as statue. On statue, pedestal is tool that like the frame in painting that make art work more like artistic. More over, Duchamp raises a question about some specific area exhibition center. When urinal is in the toilets, it works good as it is, however when urinal is in the exhibition center, with artist signature on it, people thinks differently. In other words, viewer regard urinal as an art work. Interesting points in here, if we
drop the prejudice about urinal, and just look as a object, it could be seen attractive. Just do not think function of urinal, and take a look as essential form of object. Smooth surface and soft curves evoke massing, and it is enough attractive and comparable to fair free-from sculpture.
Duchamp has already known all about that. This is provocative problem presentation about institutionalized and formatted art system. Get out of shown on art, require of communication between artist and viewer. What is art and what is not art? I admire Duchamp’s informal idea that incapacitate formatted art system. His talented imagination verger modern art’s spectrum to infinity.