As best stated by British Pop artist Richard Hamilton, “All the branches put out by Duchamp have borne fruit. So widespread have been the effects of his life that no individual may lay claim to be his heir, no one has his scope or his restraint.” Marcel Duchamp was a leading, unorthodox figure who challenged all frames of reference, attempted to always anticipate new contexts, and altered the stakes of the game (the art world) radically, over and over again. Not only is he one of the most influential figures in the history of modern art but so is his work, the notorious Fountain of 1917.
The most significant readymades were Bicycle Wheel, (1913) Bottle Dryer, (1914) and of course, Fountain (1917.) In a deliberate act of provocation, Duchamp submits the latter to the New York Society of Independent Artists. The piece was a porcelain urinal in which he turned 90 degrees and signed “R. Mutt.” Thought of as absurd and flippant, the piece was essentially rejected because it was hidden at the exhibition. Later in the year, a defense made by an Anonymous, (Duchamp) appeared in the magazine, The Blind Man. He addresses that, “Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it.” Fundamentally, the point of Duchamp’s piece was that by presenting an ordinary object of life in the context of an art object, the piece assumes the position of a work of art because the viewer must think about it in an altered way. The significance and additional meaning is determined by the artists, so the ability to transform anything into a commodity also lies with the artist. In his gesture on the nature of art, his piece questioned what society defines as work of art, how we value art, and what traits must be comprised for a work to be considered an artwork. Duchamp succeeded with this piece as he desired to transform the focus of art to intellectual interpretation, against visual skill/physical craft. Fountain is regarded as the most, if not one...
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