Monday, January 16, 2012

The Fountain's Prophecy

Sherrie Levine, Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp), 1991
John W. Hoopes photography, Johnny-on-the-Spot (from Burning Man), 2003
Marcel Duchamp, The Fountain, 1917

Marcel Duchamp knew a thing or two about chess. In fact, he gave up making art later in life to play the checkered board on a full-time basis. One of his greatest moves in the art world was to put forward the readymade urinal, signed R. Mutt, for an exhibition in 1917. This was no willy-nilly act. Although those within the bourgeois art world at the time were left scratching their chins, Duchamp would later be recognised for unlocking the gateway to modern art through this key art piece.

For the Turner Prize in 2004, Duchamp's Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 selected British art world professionals. The Fountain was a precursor to modern conceptual art, foretelling that artworks would move away from the realm of aesthetics, "retinal art" as Duchamp termed it, and become firmly rooted in the house of thought.

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