In 1917, one "Richard Mutt" entered a urinal as a sculpture in an exhibit organized by the New York Society of Independent Artists (of which Duchamp was a founding member and whose stated policy was to accept "any work by any artist who paid the six dollar fee"*). "Mr. Mutt" payed the entry fee, but the piece was rejected without discussion. Duchamp defended the piece in the magazine The Blind Man, (which he edited), with these words:
"Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He chose. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under a new title and point of view ...[creating] a new thought for that object." When the "morality" of such an object was questioned he responded, "It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' show windows... The only works of art America has given [us] are her plumbing and her bridges."
* Thanks to George Tompkins for clarifying this point. Source:. Tomkins, Calvin, The Bride and the Bachelors.
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