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Fountain is the most famous of Duchamp’s so-called ready-made sculptures: ordinary manufactured objects designated by the artist as works of art. It epitomises the assault on convention and accepted notions of art for which Duchamp became known. The original, which is now lost, consisted of a standard urinal, laid flat on its back and signed with a pseudonym, ‘R. Mutt 1917’. This work is one of a small number of replicas which Duchamp authorised in 1964, based on a photograph of the original by Alfred Stieglitz.

January 2016