Art & Design

Marcel Duchamp’s Infamous Urinal Has Arrived In Sydney

By Emma O'Neill
26th Apr 2019

Marcel Duchamp Sydney Exhibition | Urban List Sydney

A huge survey of infamous French-American artist Marcel Duchamp's work has arrived at the Art Gallery of NSW. In the exhibition called The Essential Duchamp, is his urinal installation, a strange and storied icon of twentieth-century art. 

The back story of the prized porcelain artwork goes like this. In 1917, Duchamp anonymously submitted an upside-down urinal called Fountain to the “all-accepting” ‘Society of Independent Artists’ salon in New York, of which he was a board member. The work was dismissed as a joke and Duchamp promptly resigned.

The kerfuffle left the New York art world shook and posed a few big questions: What is art? Who gets to decide? Must it be made by its maker?

Exactly 102 years after the revolutionary moment and 50 years after the artist’s death, the most comprehensive showing of Duchamp’s life and work has hit Sydney and it’s clear the questions he raised remain pretty relevant. Not many have created a stitch-up of this caliber in the art world since. 

Over 125 works are on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art for The Essential Duchamp. The show will include the game-changing Fountain 1950 (a replica of the original—which has actually been lost—but still worth a cool $US3 million), among other iconic works.

All reject the idea of pretty art in favour of idea-based works. Take your mate who scrunches their face up at any artwork that isn’t a painting, and dive right into some healthy discussions slash arguments on what makes good art.


What: The Essential Duchamp
When: 27 April – 11 August, 2019
Where: Art Gallery of NSW

Here are all the other art shows you need to see this month. 

Image credit: Pinterest.

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