JOE DiGIULIO: One can argue about the entry of Duchamp’s “The Fountain” into a 1917 exhibition as to whether it should be considered Art. As a 3 dimensional sculptor, I have always sought for the harmony between form and function and within this criteria, I would have to say “No” it is not considered as such due to it not being functional in its state within a museum setting.
By turning the piece on it side, The Fountain, has resembled the imagery of a sitting Buddha or a veiled Madonna figure with its sweeping downward curves. From that standpoint I would consider it as Art. So that’s one for and one against. I would also, and most importantly, consider whether the piece elicits a response from the observer. Although the Fountain was hidden from view in the exhibition one would have to believe that the public response to the piece’s inclusion would have been one of shock. With this in mind, I would contend that YES it is Art in the fact that it caused an emotional response from the observer. Whether good or bad, if the observer is emotionally drawn to the piece, then it is a successful piece of Art. Found art or fabricated from the artist’s hand, when displayed within the museum setting the final work stands to be observed and judged by the eye of the beholder. It is from there that beauty is conceived.
SHARON DiGIULIO: NO! This is not art. This is some crazy person’s attempt to get a reaction from the art community. I believe Duchamp was using this as a futile attempt to cause a stir. Now, sometimes the art community needs a little stir, but this urinal is more of a disaster in my opinion. Picking something up out of the trash or purchasing someone else’s creation (or design or manufactured item) and calling it your own or calling it art is ridiculous! I do, however, believe that when you do use “found objects” in an art piece, you can call it your own when you alter or manipulate it or incorporate other items with it and present it in a new way or tell a story, that it does eventually become art. But when you have a urinal and sign the manufacturer’s name to it and submit it for public display, that’s a little weird in my opinion.