Art is for me // why I almost cried seeing a urinal in an art gallery

Fountain, Marcel Duchamp (1917)

 

I saw a urinal at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. I almost cried tears of joy. What’s the big deal?

 

To me, Duchamp is inspirational in how he challenged the norms and conventions of his time. He makes me think twice about my preconceptions about what art is. He, along with his fellow Dadaists (French for ‘hobbyhorse’) created a big turning point in art.

 

After the horrors of World War I, it was universally acknowledged that there was something wrong with the world.

 

Artists created the Dada movement as their way of rebelling against society. They rejected all social and artistic traditions.

 

By creating completely illogical and senseless art.

 

They chose ready-made objects, such as urinals, to be displayed as ‘masterpieces’ in art galleries.

 

Previously, art had all been about visual representation – trying to interpret and capture the real world. Therefore, a skilled and successful artist was one that could capture real life in a meaningful and captivating way.

 

Instead, Duchamp says who cares about what the hand does. It’s all about the brain and thought behind it.

 

Let us enjoy art for the sake of art. We don’t have to care about how well it interprets the real world.

 

A urinal is an artwork because Duchamp chose it to be.

 

 

Point to ponder: As a society in general, we are discontent with the way things are. There’s suffering and injustice all around us. Duchamp and other Dada artists created nonsensical art as their medium of rebellion against the norms of society. What we are we going to do about the world around us today?

 

‘Art is for me’ is a series where I hope to show you why I love art and why I think art is relevant and interesting to all of us today.

Disclaimer: Please don’t quote me for academic purposes as I am only using my own opinion and general knowledge I’ve picked up over the years. If you are interested in finding out more, message me and I can refer you to some properly scholarly resources.

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