The new issue of Art in America reported that Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain was vandalized while on display at the “Dada” exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris. But, justice has been served—77 year old performance artist Pierre Pinoncelli, who maintains that his actions were actually a form of “Dada action,” was arrested at the scene soon after hitting the work with a small hammer.
Thankfully, another replica of the porcelain readymade (there are apparently eight of them, all signed by Duchamp) had already been selected for the “Dada” exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, which runs through May 14th. In a review of the exhibition for NPR, Susan Stamberg discussed Duchamp’s Fountain:
In 1917, Duchamp created one of his "ready-made" works—again in the spirit of challenging what society defined as art. A mass-produced object—in this case a sparkling white porcelain urinal bought from a plumbing supplier—was turned on its side, signed, and called "Fountain." When Duchamp tried to enter it in a New York exhibition, it was refused. Paris museum director Alfred Packmon observes that Duchamp and the Dadaists were making the point that art was no longer just a nice bunch of flowers on the wall: "The artist is the person who decides what is art and what is not art.”
More information on the exhibit can be found here. Stamberg’s piece is here (you can listen or read). And, if you are wondering how all this started, check out the secret history of Dada’s Romanian roots, in Tom Sandqvist’s newly published Dada East: The Romanians of the Cabaret Voltaire.
(Marcel Duchamp's urinal art, Fountain. Marcel Duchamp/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris/Succession Marcel Duchamp © 2005)