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Fountain is considered one of the most influential artworks of the 20th century - and one of its most controversial.

Braque had challenged the need to represent clear forms

De Chirico had challenged the need to represent clear meaning.

But Duchamp challenged the need to represent something beautiful or even "pleasant" altogether.

Indeed Fountain is exactly what it looks like - a porcelain urinal, bought from a shop and signed "R. Mutt".​

It has challenged what constitutes art ever since.

For Duchamp, this was about making a statement : indeed while most artists were focused on creating what he called "retinal art" - an art that was aesthetically pleasing - he believed that this didn't have to be the case.

He wanted to draw people away from the actual craftsmanship of the object.

"My idea was to choose an object that didn't attract me, either by its beauty or by its ugliness", he explained.

Duchamp's art was meant to primarily serve the mind.

The intellectual power of an artwork, he believed, was as impactful - if not more impactful - than its "retinal beauty" : "it's always the idea that comes first, not the visual example".

As a fellow artist described it : "Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – and created a new thought for that object."​​

Through this action, Duchamp was challenging the whole concept of art.

This was to have profound and revolutionary consequences for the development of modern art in the years to come.

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)

Next:

Violon d'Ingres

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