In The Frame
In The Frame
In The Frame

Museums take a loo break to celebrate Duchamp Fountain centenary

by The Art Newspaper  |  3 April 2017
Museums take a loo break to celebrate Duchamp Fountain centenary
A version of Marcel Duchamp's ready-made Fountain (the 1917 original is lost) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
This Sunday, 9 April, museums around the world, from Kyoto to Jerusalem to New York, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of “the most influential artwork of all time” (according to a 2004 poll of 500 art experts): Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made, Fountain, a porcelain urinal with no intervention but the signature “R. Mutt 1917”. The date is the centenary of the First Annual Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York, which rejected Fountain—submitted under the pseudonym Richard Mutt by Duchamp, who was on the event's committee—despite boasting “no jury—no prizes” on its call for entries. In-the-know visitors who arrive at participating museums between 3pm and 4pm on 9 April will be granted free admission if they say “Richard Mutt” to entrance staff. Some of these museums, including the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt and the Philadelphia Museum of Art—home to the world’s largest collection of works by Duchamp—will even turn selected men’s restrooms into unisex spaces for holding impromptu Duchamp-themed readings, homages and performances that afternoon. So will these improvisational art venues continue to function as toilets during the Duchamp events? “Anything can happen,” says the Munich-based art historian and Duchamp expert, Thomas Girst, who proposed the multi-museum initiative. “Urinating can become a performance.”

Museums participating on 9 April include:

China: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
France: Centre Pompidou, Paris
Germany: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Staedel Museum, Frankfurt; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart; Staatliches Museum Schwerin, Schwerin; Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Israel: the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Japan: the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
The Netherlands: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Sweden: Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Switzerland: Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
UK: Serpentine Galleries, London; Tate Modern, London
US: the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

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