Marcel Duchamp, genius ofmodern art, is the inventor of the ready-made.
The ready-made: what is it?
Simplifying to the utmost, ready-made consists of converting any converting any object taking it out of its context, into a work of art without further intervention by the artist.
Fountain from original 1917
Fountainis a ready-made work created by the artist in 1917.
Unfortunately, the original version was never displayed to the public and was lost, even for some thrown in the trash.
To date there are several copies, one of which is on display at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome.
What is the Fountain?
It is a common urinal signed“R. Mutt” and titled“Fountain “.
It is considered by some art historians and specialized theorists to be one of the greatest works of art of the twentieth century and, undoubtedly, the work that above all revolutionized the conception of modern art forever.
Legends about the origin of thework are diverse.
It is said that Duchamp purchased the urinal in New York. Arriving then in his studio, he rotated the object ninety degrees and wrote on it“R. Mutt 1917.”
According to another version, thework is the result of a collaboration: in fact, Duchamp, in a letter to his sister writes that he conceived the ready-made thanks to a friend of his, who sent him the urinal under the pseudonym “Richard Mutt.”
Why Richard Mutt
The very initials“R. Mutt,” with which the Fountain was signed, is one of the biggest questions about the work.
The signature has been interpreted by many scholars arriving, each time, at different conclusions.
For example, some link it to the comic strip Mutt and Jeff, while others claim a reference to the German word “armut, ” or “poverty.”
It was later Duchamp himself who suggested that the “R ” stood for “Richard,” which in French slang means a bag containing money.
According to these indications, the translation of the ‘work can be broadly rendered, by a conceptual pun, as “scatological golden calf.”
If you would like to learn more about Duchamp, you might also be interested in: Marcel Duchamp from painting to ready-made.