Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Duchamp's Got More Urinals Than A Baseball Stadium




By shifting the definition of art from the thing the artist makes to the thing the artist sees or thinks, Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, 1917, changed art for the rest of the 20th century.

Unfortunately for all his first generation of Readymades, the "originals" were promptly thrown out with the trash.

So when demand for Fountain picked up, Duchamp started authorizing replica/replacements. Two in the 1950s, one in 1963, and then an edition of 8 [plus 4 proofs] in 1964, which were actually not off-the-shelf urinals at all, but casts from an original clay sculpture ["the prototype"] copied from a photo of the 1917 original. So that's 17, which is how many Cabinet Magazine thought there were in 2007 when they tracked them all down. [I think the one above, (1964, 4/8), is the one I saw a few years ago in a collection in New York.]

Only it turns out Arturo Schwarz, the dealer who made the 1964 edition with Duchamp, had some extras--at least four--outside the official edition. And he's been shopping one around for $2.5 million. And the Duchamp Estate is pissed, no pun intended. OK, maybe a little bit intended.

Rogue Urinals [economist.com via @joygarnett]