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The Controversy Of Marcel Duchamp Essay

1112 words - 4 pages

One of the most unique figures in the continuum of the art world, Marcel Duchamp changed the way we look at and produce art today. Marcel Duchamp was by far, one of the most controversial figures in art. Two of the most well known and talked about pieces by him are The Fountain and The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even . Duchamp created many other pieces that caught the attention of critics, other artists, and the population in a negative way; however, these two pieces alone, brought about the greatest amount of controversy.
In 1917, Marcel Duchamp submitted his urinal, the Fountain, to the American Society of Independent Artists . The urinal was taken from J. L. Mott Iron Works in New York City, rotated ninety degrees and signed “R. Mutt.” The name “R. Mutt” was an alias he created to sign the piece. “R” stands for Richard was slang for a rich man, and “Mutt” refers to a cartoon character from the show “Mott and Mutt.” The American Society of Independent Artists was an un-juried show , making for an opportune time for Duchamp to submit his work. Although the show was not juried, the piece was not accepted into the show for multiple reasons.
Many art critiques considered the piece to be absurd and too vulgar to exhibit in the show. Published in the art magazine “The Blind Man” of May 1917, Marcel Duchamp wrote, under the penname of Beatrice Wood:
“They say any artist paying six dollars may exhibit.
Mr. Richard Mutt sent in a fountain. Without discussion this article disappeared and never was exhibited.
What were the grounds for refusing Mr. Mutt’s fountain:--
1. Some contended it was immoral, vulgar.
2. Others, it was plagiarism, a plain piece of plumbing.
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.
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.
As for plumbing, that is absurd. The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges.”
Marcel Duchamp was showing off one of his readymade sculptures at its finest. He was making a statement that an everyday object is also art. The fact that Duchamp chose the object and called it art was just another cause for rebuttal in the art world. Now, approximately one hundred years later, everyday objects are commonly accepted as art.
Shortly after Duchamp released the Fountain, another controversial piece of art debuted—The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even . This piece was not a readymade, but a more “accepted” form of art. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even went through many years of Duchamp researching, working on and repairing the piece. Marcel Duchamp started working on the piece in 1915 and worked on it...

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