January 06, 2006

Once Again It's Time for "What Art is Not"

After a brief blogging hiatus while I was visiting home for the holidays --- I bring you another segment of “What Art is Not.”

Today’s selection is a piece called “Fountain” which was “made” “by” Marcel Duchamp (that is if you consider singing your name on a urinal and presenting as a piece actually making something.)

Ladies and Gentlemen I submit that this is not art. I don’t really care how liberal your idea of art is --- painting your name and a date on a toilet is not anything remotely resembling art.

In 2004 this toilet received the distinction of being named the “most influential modern art work of all time.” Yes, that’s right --- I’m not joking --- it beat out Warhol, Picasso and Matisse!
Duchamp shocked the art establishment when he took the urinal, signed it and put it on display in 1917.

“The choice of Duchamp's Fountain as the most influential work of modern art ahead of works by Picasso and Matisse comes as a bit of a shock,” said art expert Simon Wilson.

“But it reflects the dynamic nature of art today and the idea that the creative process that goes into a work of art is the most important thing - the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form.”

What exactly was the creative process of taking a toilet and signing your name on it? How can you even say that’s creative? If the creative process is what most matters this item shouldn’t have even made the list.

I think I had heard about “Fountain” before, but it was recently brought to my attention when:
A 77-year-old Frenchman has spent a night in custody in Paris after attacking a plain porcelain urinal considered to be a major artwork.

Of course, what he actually attacked was a replica (“believed to be worth some 3m euros”) of the original 1917 piece that sold for “disappointing” 1.2 million in 2002. Amazingly:

Police said the man had urinated on the same piece at an exhibition in Nimes, southern France, in 1993 … the man claimed the hammer attack was a work of performance art that Marcel Duchamp himself would have appreciated.

So even the smashing of a the toilet … is art? I think I should get into the business.

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