Sunday, 13 October 2013
On Art As A Urinal
"When you stand close to 'beauty and truth', you realize it's just a bunch of old carved stone that some drunk fucker or gypsy has pissed on." Todd Babiak / Come Barbarians, p. 75
Perhaps Duchamp's most famous piece is his (1917) Fountain. This is the first work of his I ever heard of. It was featured in an anarchist calendar someone gave me when I was in my teens (and therefore, of course, an anarchist). Duchamp bought an ordinary urinal from a plumbing supply store (J.L. Mott Iron Works on Fifth Avenue in New York, if you're a details guy), signed it 'R. Mutt' and submitted it an exhibition organized by the Society of Independent Artists, who had agreed to show every piece submitted. They did not exhibit R. Mutt's urinal. Duchamp and his collector friend Walter Arensburg both resigned from the Society of Independent Artists in protest.
As my narrator Isaac put it succinctly in my novel: "Chaos and modern art ensued."