‘Fountain’ took Marcel Duchamps concept to a very different and some say aggressively confrontational stage.
He entered it in to the 1917 Independence Exhibition, the biggest Modern Art that America had ever known.
The exhibition itself was a challenge to the Art Establishment of the US it was organised by The Society of Independent Artists, a group of ‘forward thinking’ intellectuals, who were standing up to The National Academy of Design’s backward thinking attitude towards Modern Art.
The Society allowed any artist to become a member for $1, and any member could put two works in to the exhibition.
Marcel Duchamp was a director of the society, which partly explains the pseudonym but with him nothing was ever simple, there are many theories as to why he chose R.Mutt, all of them poking fun at greedy collectors and pompous gallery owners.
The use of a urinal was questioning what constitutes a work of art in the first place, suggesting that the ‘self elected’ judges and decision makers, the art critics, were not the one’s that should make the call, instead it should be the artists themselves.
Duchamps’ position was that if an artist produced an artwork, having personally had much to do with the context and meaning, then it was their right to call it a ‘work of art’