1907 – 1960
Age of Global Conflict

Duchamp's Fountain

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917/1964, porcelain urinal, paint, 36 x 48 x 61 cm (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).

Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker

Detail of Page from The Blind Man Magazine with The Richard Mutt Case
The text above was published in the periodical, The Blind Man, number 2, May 1917:5. It was submitted by Marcel Duchamp with the assistance of Beatrice Wood and is in the collection of the University of Iowa (http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/dada/blindman/2/index.htm).

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Kate wrote on Sunday, February 17, 2013

Duchamp was an artist who focused on the concept that art should be cerebral rather than being an optical experience. With his visual indifference, he presented more questions than answers to his viewers. He was bringing in new possibilities, and many people either rejected his notion or criticized him for his “art,” believing it wasn’t. What Duchamp was trying to do was push the boundaries of what people thought art should be, and ask WHY people were so sure that the artwork of the past was indeed “art.” What makes art, art? I found it interesting that when Duchamp presented this work to the gallery, he said it was sculpture. He was pushing the boundaries of what people thought a sculpture should be: traditional, heroic, and monumental. Instead of presenting what people thought of as “good” or “bad” taste, he transformed materials to evoke a reaction. The Fountain makes people question why would he present this, how could this be art, and most importantly, what is the difference between this and a highly revered and loved piece of art? There are many more questions that can arise, such as what makes an artwork good or bad, what emotional connection the Mona Lisa presents to people, or could an already manufactured object be even considered art, but all in all, Duchamp wanted people to question the art of the past. I think to him, art is questioning the boundaries.

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