The Fountain (1917)

I found the idea disgusting when I learnt about Duchamp’s fountain for the first time- and paradoxically it therefore appealed to me as a piece of art that strongly portrays beliefs from its manifesto. All art classes I attended as a school-going kid were based on an undertone that practicing and developing skills is a mandatory factor in creating art. Dadaism completely rips it apart with a bold presence of ‘anti-artworks’.

The artist attempted to shift the focus from skillful creation of an artifact to its interpretation, by presenting a mass-produced object that sends a clear message: Art is worthless spam. And as Stephen Hicks quotes, it is something you piss on.

The fountain was exhibited in 1917, and so much has changed in last hundred years with advent of technology. What fascinates me more than the rebellious Dada manifesto is the fact that art critics and societies had to take note of the fountain; it did not just go unnoticed. It appeared on several then-available platforms that successfully mediated the artist’s message. The interpretations of the fountain mostly seem to be based on Duchamp’s communications with fellow Dada artists and art collectors via the letters they exchanged, the journals that published anti-art, and the geographical and production details of the original urinal that was photographed. In this sense, it appears quite fascinating to compare and study the strategies Sol LeWitt might have used to make sure that the procedural and instruction-based art reaches to the masses that would eventually create artworks.

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