Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (second version), 1950 




Perhaps his most outrageous readymade was Fountain, a porcelain urinal presented on its back, signed “R. Mutt,” and dated. The “artist’s signature” was, in fact, a witty pseudonym derived from the Mott plumbing company’s name and that of the short half of the then-popular Mutt and Jeff comic-strip team. As he wrote in a “defense” published in 1917, after an exhibition committee rejected Fountain for display: “Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.” Dada persistently presented staggering challenges to artistic conventions. 

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (second version), 1950 

Perhaps his most outrageous readymade was Fountain, a porcelain urinal presented on its back, signed “R. Mutt,” and dated. The “artist’s signature” was, in fact, a witty pseudonym derived from the Mott plumbing company’s name and that of the short half of the then-popular Mutt and Jeff comic-strip team. As he wrote in a “defense” published in 1917, after an exhibition committee rejected Fountain for display: “Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.” Dada persistently presented staggering challenges to artistic conventions. 

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