Professor Karmel’s article;
Read Professor Karmel’s article carefully
Answer the prompt in the format of a two-page, double-spaced, typed essay.
PROMPT: How does professor Karmel interpret the conceptual dimension of Duchamp’s art? What visual strategies does Duchamp employ in order to highlight
the conceptual dimension of his art. What role does gender play in Duchamp’s avant-garde strategies?
P e p e K a r m e l
MARCEL DUCHAMP, 1917
THE NOT SOINNOCENT EYE
ike Marcel Duchamp himself, the history of Fountain (pl. 65) is both sim-
ple and baffling. Resident in New York since 1915, Duchamp had been
enlisted in fall 1916 as the only European on the board of directors of the
newly organized Society of Independent Artists. The chief purpose of the Society
N33 to mount an annual exhibition, open to any artist willing to pay the modest dues.
The exhibition would thus escape the old-fashioned prejudices of the jury at the
National Academy of Design. Applications flooded in. By the time the first exhibi-
tion opened, on 10 April 1917, the Society had twelve hundred members and more
than two thousand works on display.‘
Despite the rules of the Society, one submission had not been included in the
exhibition. A sculpture entitled Fountain, supposedly submitted by a Philadelphia
artist named R. Mutt, proved upon inspection to be nothing more than a white
porcelain urinal. The painter George Bellows, on the organizing committee of the
Society, proclaimed that it was “indecent” and could not be shown. Another com-
mittee member, the collector and patron Walter Arensberg, responded: “A lovely
form has been revealed, freed from its functional purpose, therefore a man clearly
has made an aesthetic contribution. . .. This Mr. Mutt has taken an ordinary object,
placed it so that its useful significance disappears, and thus has created a new approach
to the subject.” Bellows was outraged. “You mean to say, if a man sent in horse manure
65 MARCEL DUCHAMP glued to a canvas that we would have to accept it?” (Bellows’ question
Fountain, 1917 (1964 edition) seemed equally relevant three-quarters of a century later, when the
ZTEZ‘IElgfgii‘ZSiZITED AT exhibition of a canvas with elephant manure glued to it aroused a major
291.1917 controversy in New York City.) “I’m afraid we would,” Arensberg
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