Art Term

Anti-art

Anti-art is a term used to describe art that challenges the existing accepted definitions of art

Marcel Duchamp, ‘Fountain’ 1917, replica 1964
Marcel Duchamp
Fountain 1917, replica 1964
Tate
© Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017

The term anti-art is generally agreed to have been coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 when he made his first readymades, which are still regarded in some quarters as anti-art (for example by the Stuckist group). In 1917 Duchamp submitted a urinal, titled Fountain, for an exhibition in New York, which subsequently became notorious and eventually highly influential. Anti-art is associated with dada, the artistic and literary movement founded in Zurich in 1916 and simultaneously in New York, in which Duchamp was a central figure.

Since dada there have been many art movements that have taken a position on anti-art, from the lo-fi mail art movement to the YBAs, some of whom have embraced the absurdities of dada and Duchamp’s love of irony, paradox and punning.

related terms and concepts

selected artists in the collection

selected artworks in the collection