Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp
This is a urinal with the signature “R. Mutt 1917.” It is worth somewhere upward of 3 million dollars. It’s not any kind of special urinal, it wasn’t hand-made or sculpted over many days of hard work. According to Wikipedia it is: "a standard Bedfordshire model urinal from the J. L. Mott Iron Works, 118 Fifth Avenue," purchased in 1917 by Duchamp who took it to his studio and scribbled the signature on it.
And yet it’s worth more than 3 million dollars as one of the most provocative pieces of Dadaist surreal art in history.
This is the kind of art people who sneer at art tend to bring up when they want to prove how stupid and pointless “fine” art is. You’ll typically hear people saying things like "any idiot could have done that!"
What irks me most about those sneering critics is that this is exactly what Marcel Duchamp was fucking saying.The whole point of the Dadaist movement was an attack and a critique of art and elitist, intellectualist so-called “experts.”
Duchamp took an actual urinal, put it in a museum and told the critics, “this is art now, fucking deal with it.” This is like getting on stage at the Royal Ballet naked and swinging your dick around for an hour and then telling people “this is ballet now, fucking deal with it.” DUCHAMP WAS LITERALLY SWINGING HIS DICK IN THE FACE OF THE ART ESTABLISHMENT.
He is attacking their prejudices and systematic snobberies, he is taking away their power to judge what is and isn’t art. He’s saying to YOU the viewer: "any idiot could have done this!" He’s saying that art isn’t mystical or magical and it doesn’t belong to the rich and powerful, it doesn’t belong to the elite, it doesn’t belong to the intellectuals, it belongs to YOU. Take a fucking urinal and put it in a museum, IT’S ART IF YOU BELIEVE IT IS.
So stop fucking sneering at modern art! Modern art is ON YOUR SIDE. Modern art BELONGS TO YOU. Lots of assholes try and take it away from you by pretending you’re too stupid to understand, that you’re not cultured enough, that you’re not GOOD enough to enjoy it. MARCEL DUCHAMP SAYS FUCK THOSE GUYS, and he’s right.