Marcel Duchamp’s iconic artwork Fountain is a porcelain urinal that was signed “R. Mutt.” The original artwork is lost, but it was created in 1917 and consisted of a standard urinal laid flat on its back and signed ‘R. Mutt 1917’. Duchamp submitted Fountain to an exhibition in April of the same year, but it was rejected by the hanging committee. He used the pseudonym or fictitious character “R. Mutt” to sign the piece.
The verdict on Fountain being “not art” remained controversial throughout Duchamp’s life, as many artists did not consider it art. However, he became a catalyst for conceptual art, and Fountain is considered to be one of his most important artworks as well as an icon of twentieth-century art.
Despite its initial rejection, Fountain has become synonymous with Duchamp’s readymade sculptures – ordinary objects repurposed through artistic framing. Stuart Davis claimed that Fountain demonstrated how anything could become artistic subject matter and influenced American abstract expressionism.