December 14, 2004
If you have ever studied any modern art history then you have undoubtedly had a debate about Marcel Duchamp. For those of you unfamiliar with Duchamp he was an artist in the early nineteen hundreds who allowed himself to think outside of the norm and create art from the discarded and ordinary objects around his home. To me, Duchamp was the first artist to clearly juxtapose the position of modern art with commercial objects. Duchamp’s most famous and controversial piece was entitled Fountain, which was a urinal turned on its side, placed on a stand and signed with the name “R. Mutt 1917”. I was asked to do a report on Duchamp in my Modern Art class to which I soon found myself explaining, encouraging, and defending Duchamp’s ingenious and foresighted vision of art. For the majority, people have a hard time accepting a urinal on its side to be art, but the real accomplishment of Duchamp was his ability to challenge the aesthetic value of commonplace objects. Duchamp gained recognition for the Fountain, which opened the door for his ideas for art to challenge traditional ideas and the rigid structures of the past. Even today this art is misunderstood and controversial. I enjoyed researching Duchamp and presenting his art and his ideas to my class because I knew there would be mixed opinions about his art.
During my presentation I took the class on a field trip that I hope impacted their understanding of Duchamp’s creativity. We ventured into the depths of the men’s restroom on the first floor of the art building, where I created my own version of Fountain. Luckily we captured a visual record of this event, so that the world can now see how Duchamp has even affected our dear Georgetown College Art Department. Not everyone likes Duchamp’s art, we even have some students here who hate his work, but no matter who you are or your opinion on him, he undeniably changed the idea of art forever.
The men’s bathroom no longer has the recreation of Duchamps work on display, but we do have pictures of the event!(photos courtesy of Amy LeMay)