As you wander the city, keep your eye out for the toilets! You never know where you’ll spot an homage to artist Marcel Duchamp.
In 1917, Marcel Duchamp shocked the art world by submitting a urinal purchased from a plumbing supply store to the Society of Independent Artists exhibit in New York. The piece was rejected and disappeared, but its impact lived on and is considered one of the foundations of 20th century art. Fountain was one of Duchamp’s “ready mades,” pieces questioning the definition of art and the relationship between art and artists. Earlier Duchamp had shocked America with “Nude Descending a Staircase” at the 1913 Armory Show in NY, viewed by many as a turning point in modern art.
Today, the Philadelphia Museum of Art houses the largest collection of works by Duchamp in the world, including his final piece, Etant Donnes, unknown to the world until after his death (for the last 25 years of his life, Duchamp gave up practicing art and played competitive chess). Finding it is a bit of a challenge – this large tableau featuring a nude woman is visible through a peep hole in a wooden door hidden away in a side room off the main Duchamp gallery. Nude, Fountain (a commissioned reproduction of the original authorized by Duchamp), and Etant Donnes are always on display in the Duchamp gallery.