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Marcel Duchamp, Richard Mutt and Fountain

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Marcel Duchamp, Richard Mutt and Fountain

Edoardo Grismondi (1858-1933)
2012, oil on canvas, 20×26 cm

Marcel Duchamp, Richard Mutt and Fountain

Edoardo Grismondi (1858-1933)

Fragments of Happiness in Art - The Reunion of Electronic Music and Chess

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain

Aesthetic Indifference of Marcel Duchamp's Fountain

Unfinished Metaphysical Readymade

Technique of Avant-garde and Metaphysical Logic

Stereoscopic Image and Perspective Construction

 

Marcel Duchamp, Richard Mutt and Fountain

 

 

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Its History and Aesthetics in the Context of 1917 (Part 1)

 

William A. Camfield
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Its History and Aesthetics in the Context of 1917 (Part 2)

Hostilities may have been suspended for what Beatrice Wood recorded as u spectacular opening and a 'Jolly crowd" later that night at the Beaux-Arts, hut there should be no mistaking Duchamp's contempt for the action of the Society's directors. He resigned immediately and quietly took other actions that produced some of the few documents we possess. Those actions included initiation of the all-important second number of The Blind Man (May 1917) and two letters-one to his sister Suzanne in Paris and the other to Katherine S. Dreier.

Duchamp's letter to his sister on April 11 is most puzzling:

Raconte ce détail 11 à la famille: Les Indépendants sont ouverts ici avec gros succès. Une de mes amies sous un pseudonyme masculin, Richard Mutt, avait envoyé une pissotière en porcelaine comme sculpture; ce n'était pas du tout indécent aucune raison pour la refuser. Le comité a décidé de refuser d'exposer cette chose. J’ai donné ma démission et c'est un potin qui aura sa valeur dans New York.[26]

I see no reason to doubt the sincerity of Duchamp's earliest known statement on Fountain, which he described simply as "a sculpture" that "was not at all indecent." But what is not yet clear is why he claimed that the urinal had been submitted by one of his "female friends under a masculine pseudonym, Richard Mutt." Beatrice Wood-who should know-has always insisted that Duchamp was the artist. How then should we take this statement? As others have observed, it is likely that Duchamp concealed his identity in order to pose a test for the Independents that would not be compromised by knowledge that Fountain had been submitted by a director of the organization. But why did he mislead his sister in Paris? Was the account given to Suzanne merely a "white lie" to conceal his authorship, or might we have here an early appearance of Duchamp's female alter ego, Rrose Selavy, or might he have been telling the truth?[27] Was Fountain actually submitted by a female friend? And if, indeed, a female friend sent Fountain to the Independents, must that mean that she and not Duchamp was the artist who conceived, selected and altered the urinal-or might she have acted merely as the shipping agent whose participation kept Duchamp out of sight? The last possibility seems most plausible, but this point remains a mystery. Even if Duchamp simply had a female "shipping agent," who was she? Did she live in Philadelphia, since newspaper reports consistently identified Mutt as a Philadelphian? To date, no Philadelphia contact has been identified, but a New York friend was implicated in a letter from Charles Demuth to Henry McBride, the art critic of The Sun, during the first week after the opening of the Independents:

A piece of scuItor [sic], called: "a Fountain," was entered by one of our friends for the Independent Exhibition now open at the Grand Central Palace.
It was not exhibited. "The Independents," we are now told have a committee, - or jury, who can decide, "for the good of the exhibition ....”
If you think you could do anything with this material for your Sunday article we would appreciate it very much....
P.S. If you wish any more information please phone, Marcel Duchamp, 4225 Columbus, or, Richard Mutte [sic], 9255 Schuyler.[28]

The telephone number given for "Richard Mutte" was the number for Duchamp's friend Louise Norton, the estranged wife of AlIen Norton, the publisher of Rogue. Unfortunately, Louise Norton has not provided additional information about her role in the Richard Mutt affair, but Demuth's letter indicates that she was in the innermost circle and possessed special information which she probably used in her crucial article, "Buddha of the Bathroom," for The Blind Man, no. 2.[29]

Duchamp's other letter on April 11 was a simple statement of regret to Katherine S. Dreier that he would not be able to fulfill his promise to help decorate her tearoom at the Independents because he had "resigned from the board of directors."[30] This letter, however, provoked a reply on April 13, which contributes much to our knowledge of the events:

Rumors of your resignation had reached me prior to your letter of April eleventh. As a director of the Society of Independent Artists, I must use my influence to see whether you cannot reconsider your resignation....

As I was saying to Arensberg, I felt it was of much more vital importance to have you connected with our Society than to have the piece of plumbing which was surreptitiously stolen, remain. When I voted "No," I voted on the question of originality- I did not see anything pertaining to originality in it; that does not mean that if my attention had been drawn to what was original by those who could see it, that I could not also have seen it. To me, no other question came up: it was simply a question of whether a person has a right to buy a readymade object and show it with their name attached at an exhibition? Arensberg tells me that that was in accord with you [sic) "Readymades," and I told him that was a new thought to me as the only "readymades" I saw were groups which were extremely original in their handling. I did not know that you had conceived of single objects.

I felt that it was most unfortunate that a meeting was not called and the matter discussed and passed upon by the Board of Directors; but I do feel that you have sufficient supporters with you to make it a very decided question whether it is right for you to withdraw. I hope, therefore, that you will seriously reconsider it, so that at our next directors' meeting I may have the right to bring forth the refusal of the acceptance of your resignation.[31]

Several points merit underscoring in this letter. First, Dreier claims that Fountain was "surreptitiously stolen." Second, she articulates what may be called the "plagiarism" or "originality" objection to Fountain, namely, that there is no "originality" to it, that a person has no right to exhibit a piece of plumbing that was merely bought as a readymade object and signed. The readymades in Duchamp's apartment had not distressed her this way. To the contrary she described them as "extremely original in their handling," but she saw those readymades as a group-a group which would have included the Hat Rack and snow shovel (In Advance of the Broken Arm) suspended from the ceiling, the coat rack (Trebuchet) nailed to the floor, and the Bicycle Wheel. In contrast to the grouping of those readymades in a private apartment, Fountain was a solitary item placed on a pedestal for the Independents. Finally she confirms that a vote on Fountain was taken among a group of the directors who, excepting perhaps only Arensberg and Duchamp himself, did not know the true identity of Mutt.

Duchamp, of course, was not persuaded to change his mind and the Richard Mutt affair was a tense topic at the next directors' meeting later in the month. To disarm the explosive situation, Glackens proposed a solution heartily embraced by Dreier as revealed in her letter to Glackens on April 26:

I want to express to you my profound admiration in the way you handled so important a matter as you did at the last meeting when it was at your suggestion that I made the motion, seconded by Mr. Covert, that we invite Marcel Duchamp to lecture one afternoon in our free lecture hall on his "Readymades" and have Richard Mutt bring the discarded object and explain the theory of art and why it had a legitimate place in an Art Exhibit. I was especially pleased because I said right along that I felt that if you had realized that the object was sent in good faith that the whole matter would have been handled differently. It is because of the confusion of ideas that the situation took on such an important aspect. I am very curious to see what the response will be, for with one stroke you cleared the atmosphere and will force Richard Mutt to show whether he was sincere or did it out of bravado. I told Covert and Arensberg that in my judgment Richard Mutt caused the greater part of the confusion by signing a name which is known in the newspaper world as a popular joker. "Mutt and Jeff" are too famous not to make people suspect if their name is used the matter is a joke.[32]

Several statements in this letter also bear underscoring. Dreier provides the first recorded example of the "sincerity-of-the-artist defense" in this controversy. There was a "confusion of ideas," she says, largely due to Richard Mutt, because his name provoked association with Mutt and Jeff, popular jokers in a contemporary cartoon strip. If Glackens had only realized that "the object was sent in good faith," she is confident "the whole matter would have been handled differently."

The "sincerity defense" was linked to "respect for the artist." It is clear from the letter that Dreier still did not know that Duchamp was Mutt, but he had taken a stand for Mutt and that was significant. She concludes her letter to Glackens with these words:

I feel so conscious of Duchamp's brilliancy and originality, as well as my own limitation which cannot immediately follow him, but his absolute sincerity, in my judgment, would always make me want to listen to what he has to say. The very fact that he does not try to force his ideas on others but tries to let them develop truly along their own lines is in essence the guarantee of his real bigness.

Not precisely stated but implied in Dreier's letter was the fact that Fountain had been found, for Mutt was to be asked to bring it along with him. Circumstances regarding the finding of Fountain have not been documented, but clearly false are the claims that Glackens smashed it or that it disappeared soon after its rejection and was never seen again.[33] Other reports probably approach what actually occurred, that is to say, that several days after the opening of the exhibition, Duchamp (perhaps with Man Ray I searched for the missing Fountain, found it concealed behind a partition and removed it from the hall-with or without the flourish of Rudi Blesh's account, which has Arensberg demanding that Fountain be produced and signing a check for its purchase while Duchamp and Man Ray carry his purchase in triumph through the crowded galleries.[34]

The recovery of Fountain could have occurred as early as April 12 or 13, inasmuch as Beatrice Wood recorded in her diary for April 13: "See Stieglitz about 'Fountain'."[35] According to Wood, it was Duchamp's idea to approach Stieglitz, and when Fountain was carried to his gallery sometime before April 19, the two men had a long discussion:

At Marcel's request, he [Stieglitz] agreed to photograph the Fountain for the frontispiece of the magazine [The Blind Man]. He was greatly amused, but also felt it was important to fight bigotry in America. He took great pains with the lighting, and did it with such skill that a shadow fell across the urinal suggesting a veil. The piece was renamed: "Madonna of the Bathroom."[36]

Stieglitz confirmed the commission in a letter to the art critic Henry McBride on April 19:

I wonder whether you could manage to drop in at 291 Friday sometime. I have, at the request of Roché, Covert, Miss Wood, Duchamp & Co., photographed the rejected "Fountain." You may find the photograph of some use. - It will amuse you to see it. - The "Fountain" is here too.[37]

Seated Amitabha Buddha, 8th century A.D. Nara, Japan.
Fig. 4 - Seated Amitabha Buddha, 8th century A.D. Nara, Japan.

While McBride does not seem to have gone to 291 to see Fountain, Carl Van Vechten apparently did, and this author, music critic, and member of the Arensberg circle wrote to Gertrude Stein about the "object labeled Fountain" which had generated a scandal at the Independents:

This porcelain tribute was bought cold in some plumber shop (where it awaited the call to join some bath room trinity) and sent in .... When it was rejected Marcel Duchamp at once resigned from the board. [Alfred] Stieglitz is exhibiting the object at "291" and he has made some wonderful photographs of it. The photographs make it look like anything from a Madonna to a Buddha.[38]

Madonna of the Seven Sorrows, 1518.
Fig. 5 - Madonna of the Seven Sorrows, 1518.

References to Madonna and Buddha forms by Van Vechten and Beatrice Wood imply an anthropomorphic perception of Fountain, i.e., a simple, frontal form, the curvilinear profile of which suggests the head and shoulders of such images as those reproduced here (Figs. 4 and 5). Stieglitz himself corroborated the reference to a Buddha figure in a contemporary letter in which he remarked that Fountain had fine lines, that he had photographed it in front of a Marsden Hartley painting, and that his photograph suggested a Buddha form.[39] We can, after all these years, identify the darkened, cropped and almost illegible painting in the background of Stieglitz's photograph, and it provides unexpected support for the aesthetic perception of Fountain. Stieglitz's choice for the background-Hartley's 1913 painting The Warriors (Fig. 6) -is dominated by a simple, symmetrical form similar to the shape of Fountain, the same shape employed as a frame for a seated Buddha in Hartley's 1913 painting Portrait of Berlin (Collection of American Literature, Yale University). Furthermore, it seems possible that even the subject of warriors going off to battle harbored references in Stieglitz's thought to Duchamp's conflict with the Independents.[40]

Marsden Hartley, The Warriors, 1913.
Fig. 6 - Marsden Hartley, The Warriors, 1913.

Stieglitz's letters and his photograph of Fountain are crucial documents - confirming the existence of Fountain, affirming the aesthetic argument first attributed by Beatrice Wood to Arensberg in the debate among the directors, and recording in memorable form a sculpture that did indeed vanish not long afterwards.

Stieglitz's photograph appeared in The Blind Man, no. 2 (May 1917), not as the frontispiece but clearly captioned "Fountain by R. Mutt," "The Exhibit Refused by the Independents" (Fig. 1). Facing the photograph were the most significant contemporary statements-an unsigned editorial entitled "The Richard Mutt Case" and Louise Norton's "Buddha of the Bathroom."[41] For the first time since the conflict had flared on April 9, a larger audience had the opportunity to see Fountain and to read something by way of explanation and defense of it. Even then a cautious decision was made to distribute The Blind Man by hand rather than risk any charge of pornography by sending it through the mail.[42]

The unsigned editorial, "The Richard Mutt Case: has been assigned to and/or claimed by different individuals. Evidently it was written by Beatrice Wood, although she, Duchamp, and Roche worked closely together, and there can be no doubt that it accurately represented Duchamp's thoughts and was approved by him, if not in part written by him.[43] It bears reprinting in full:

The Richard Mutt Case

They say any artist paying six dollars may exhibit.

Mr. Richard Mutt sent in a fountain. Without discussion this article disappeared and never was exhibited.

What were the grounds for refusing Mr. Mutt's fountain:-

1. Some contended it was immoral, vulgar.

2. Others, it was plagiarism, a plain piece of plumbing.

Now Mr. Mutt's fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bath tub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' show windows.

Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view = created a new thought for that object.

As for plumbing, that is absurd. The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges.

This succinct statement is a brilliant rejoinder to the critics of Mutt and Fountain. The object itself is not vulgar or immoral. By implication neither is the act of presenting it in public, since bathroom fixtures - including men’s urinals-were displayed to the public in plumbing shops whose owners were not charged with immoral practices.

Neither is Fountain a plagiarism, that is, an object lacking any original contribution by the artist. The editors underscore the creative act of selection. The artist CHOSE it-and it is important to stress that our visual knowledge of Fountain depends upon photography, an art form created by artists who do not make their subjects but select them. Several authors have commented on Duchamp's keen interest in that very feature of photography, that is, the primary role of the artist's selection.[44] And no element of chance was involved in Duchamp's choice of the photographer who had done more than anyone else to establish photography as an art in America. Stieglitz's memorable photograph of Fountain is integral to every issue surrounding the Mutt! Fountain case -and raises knotty questions of authorship. Is the photograph we see essentially the work of Stieglitz, or of Duchamp, or their collaboration?

As indicated in the Blind Man editorial, the originality of Mutt/Fountain involves more than the important act of selection. Duchamp also transformed the object by an action that incorporated elements of place, name/title, and point of view (both visual and conceptual). He removed "an ordinary article of life" from the context in which one normally encounters it - men's room or plumbing shop-and sought to place it in a different context (an art exhibition) with a new title ("Fountain”) and a new point of view (turned 90° on its back and isolated on a black pedestal) "so that its [former] useful significance disappeared" and he "created a new thought for that object." In brief, the urinal was substantially modified, although the final sentence of the editorial went further to imply that such transformation of the ordinary object is not always necessary, that some objects possess in themselves what is required to qualify as art: "The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges."

The "Richard Mutt Case" editorial was followed on the same page by Louise Norton's article entitled "Buddha of the Bathroom." Louise Norton was one of only a handful of Duchamp's friends with insider knowledge about the Richard Mutt case, and I submit that her article not only reflects the conversation within that group of friends but the concepts generated and accepted by Duchamp himself. I select four points in her article for special attention. She, too, addresses the criticism of originality:

To those who say that Mr. Mutt's exhibit may be Art, but is it the art of Mr. Mutt since a plumber made it? I reply simply that the Fountain was not made by a plumber but by the force of an imagination; and of imagination it has been said, "All men are shocked by it and some overthrown by it.”[45]

She also deals with the question of sincerity raised in the press and in Katherine Dreier's letter. There are those, she observes, "who anxiously ask, 'Is he serious or is he joking?' Perhaps he is both! Is it not possible? In this connection I think it would be well to remember that the sense of the ridiculous as well as 'the sense of the tragic increases and declines with sensuousness.' It puts it rather up to you." Most important in this commentary on Fountain is the stress upon willed openness and ambiguity in Duchamp's work. It may be serious or humorous or both, and the effort of assessment is placed squarely on the viewer. In the final analysis, it is each individual-the artist and each spectator-who decides about art, and not a jury.

Also interesting in this section on sincerity is the reference to "sensuousness," which seems linked to the other two points I wish to stress in Louise Norton's article. Early in the article she dealt with the "vulgarity" argument, noting those jurors who "fairly rushed to remove the bit of sculpture called the Fountain ... because the object was irrevocably associated in their atavistic minds with a certain natural function of a secretive sort .... Yet," she added

to any "innocent" eye how pleasant is its chaste simplicity of line and color! Someone said, "Like a lovely Buddha"; someone said, "Like the legs of the ladies by Cezanne"; hut have they not, those ladies, in their long, round nudity always recalled to your mind the calm curves of decadent plumbers' porcelains?

Louise Norton's comments represent the first published witness to the "pleasant" formal properties of the object itself-not a vulgar object but a form of "chaste simplicity ... like a lovely Buddha!" For over fifty years such perceptions of Fountain have almost disappeared from the literature on Duchamp, but among Duchamp's close friends in 1917 that aesthetic response was the rule, not the exception.[46] We have already encountered the irrefutable evidence of Stieglitz and Van Vechten in addition to Beatrice Wood's consistent memory of Arensberg's remarks to George Bellows about a "lovely form ... [which] has been revealed." Other witnesses include Roche, who wrote that when Marcel "submitted a porcelain urinal to the New York Independents, he was saying: 'Beauty is around you wherever you choose to discover it.'"[47] The same sentiment had been expressed a year before the Independents by Duchamp's friend Jean Crotti when he assured an astonished reporter looking at Duchamp's snow-shovel readymade, In Advance of the Broken Arm, "As un artist I consider that shovel the most beautiful object I have ever seen."[48] When news of the Richard Mutt case reached Guillaume Apollinaire in Paris, he, too, associated Fountain with a seated Buddha and chastised the Independents for failing to recognize that art can ennoble and transform an object.[49] The Buddha-like form of Fountain is even more explicit in a cropped photograph recently discovered in the Arensberg papers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Fig. 7). It is not known when, why, or by whom this photo was cropped, but the cropping clearly enhances the reference to a seated Buddha form.[50]

Fountain (cropped), 1917, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz.
Fig. 7 - Fountain (cropped), 1917, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz.


(William A. Camfield; "Marcel Duchamp's Fountain,' Its History and Aesthetics in the Context of 1917," Dada/Surrealism 16 (1987), pp. 71-79.)

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Its History and Aesthetics in the Context of 1917 (Part 3)

 


Notes:

[26] Marcel Duchamp to Suzanne Duchamp, 11 April 1917 (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.). This letter and others from Duchamp to his sister and his brother-in-law, Jean Crotti, have been published in English translation with commentary by Francis M. Naumann, "Affectueusement, Marcel," Archives of American Art Journal 22, no. 4 (1982), pp. 2-19:
Tell this detail to the family: The Independents have opened here with immense success.
One of my female friends under a masculine pseudonym, Richard Mutt, sent in a porcelain urinal as a sculpture; it was not at all indecent - no reason for refusing it. The committee has decided to refuse to show this thing. I have handed in my resignation and it will be a bit of gossip of some value in New York, p. 9).

[27] Images of Duchamp's female alter ego, Rrose Selavy, first appeared in 1921, but an androgynous element has been attributed to Duchamp's earlier work as well, most notably by Arturo Schwarz, "The Alchemist Stripped Bare in the Bachelor, Even," in Anne d'Harnoncourt and Kynaston McShine, eds., Marcel Duchamp (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1973), pp. 81-98.
[28] Charles Demuth to Henry McBride, undated (c. 10-14 April 1917), Archives of Henry McBride, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. The "e" added to Mutt in this letter could possibly have been intended to suggest a female identity or, if associated with the "R" of R. Mutt, Mutter, the German word for "mother."
Either Morton Schamberg and/or Charles Sheeler could have served as the Philadelphia contact since both lived there and were friendly with Duchamp. However, no documents have yet been discovered to link them to the Richard Mutt affair.
[29] Schuyler 9255 is the number listed in the 1917 Manhattan telephone directory for Mrs. Louise McC. Norton. She and her husband were co-editors of the avant-garde magazine Rogue. They separated in 1916 and she later married Edgar Varese, but during 1916-17 she was one of Duchamp's closest friends. In several interviews and letters this author was not successful in eliciting new information regarding Fountain from Louise Varese.
[30] Marcel Duchamp to Katherine S. Dreier, 11 April [1917]; Archives of the Societe Anonyme.
[31] Katherine S. Dreier to Marcel Duchamp, 13 April 1917; Archives of the Societe Anonyme.
[32] Katherine S. Dreier to William Glackens, 26 April 1917; Archives of the Societe Anonyme. These quotations are from a carbon copy. The Archives also contain the letter in a typed form with changes made in ink.
[33] The claim that Fountain was smashed by William Glackens stems from Glackens's son, Ira (William Glackens and the Ashcan Group [New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1957], 187-88), who recounts Charles Prendergast's story about a problem posed for the Independents' executive committee by the submission of two works, Duchamp's Fountain and a "tastefully decorated" chamber pot by an unnamed artist. According to Prendergast, William Glackens solved the problem by dropping the "disputed 'objet d'art'" and breaking it. Although it is not clear if the broken item was Fountain or the chamber pot, Clark S. Marlor claims that Glackens broke Fountain ("A Quest for Independence: The Society of Independent Artists," 77). Marlor quotes the Prendergast story again in The Society of Independent Artists, 5, as one version of what happened to Fountain, but he believes that to be the accurate version (letter to the author, 2 December 1986).
[34] Rudi Blesh, Modern Art USA (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956), 79. Discrepancies in Duchamp's own memory of the event have clouded specific points. In a late interview with Pierre Cabanne (Entretiens avec Marcel Duchamp, 98), he mistakenly recalled that Fountain was concealed behind a partition "pendant toute la durée de l'exposition, [et] je n'ai pas su où elle était."
[35] Beatrice Wood, unpublished diary, 13 April 1917.
[36] Beatrice Wood, I Shock Myself.
[37] Alfred Stieglitz to Henry McBride, 19 April 1917, Archives of American Art, McBride Papers, microfilm roll 12, frame 445. To date no McBride response has been found to the letters of Demuth and Stieglitz, suggesting perhaps the reluctance of even sympathetic critics to engage issues raised by Fountain.
[38] Carl Van Vechten, The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913-1914, edited by Edward Burns (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986). 58-59. This undated letter is attributed to April 5, apparently on the basis of events in the life of Van Vechten and his wife, the actress Fania Marinoff. Though April 5 is plausible in that context, it conflicts in the context of Stieglitz, and in my opinion the letter must date after April 13. This recent edition of the Van Vechten-Stein correspondence was brought to my attention by Francis Naumann.
[39] Alfred Stieglitz to Georgia O'Keeffe, Archives of Georgia O'Keeffe, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Restrictions on these archives, recently placed at Yale, preclude access to this letter. Owing, however, to the forth - coming publication of this letter in the selected correspondence of Georgia O'Keeffe, Sarah Greenough and Juan Hamilton graciously informed me of some of its contents und authorized a brief paraphrase. I am grateful to be able to indicate some points in this important document. Stieglitz was also led to think that the urinal had been submitted by a young woman, probably at the instigation of Duchamp.
[40] When informed of the Marsden Hartley reference, Francis Naumann identified The Warriors. I am grateful for his quick eye and for permission from the present owner of The Warriors to reproduce it with a diagram indicating as accurately as I'0~sible the portion of the painting covered by Fountain as photographed by Stieglitz. The shape of Fountain cannot be made to fit on a standard, frontal reproduction of The Warriors without distortion, indicating that the camera lens, the urinal and the painting were not aligned in parallel planes when Stieglitz made the photograph. Diagram by James Tiebout.
[41] In her diary Beatrice Wood records the appearance of The Blind Man, no. 2, on 5 May 1917.
[42] Beatrice Wood has described this event in her autobiography, I Shock Myself, 31 32. The initials on the cover refer to the three editors, P [Pierre Roche], B [Beatrice], and T [Totor or Duchamp]. Because Roche and Duchamp were not American citizens, they asked Beatrice to stand alone as publisher. She accepted, but her '"1 her was appalled by the magazine and warned her she might go to jail if such "filth" went through the mail She consulted Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair and supporter of The Blind Man. Though they could not understand the reaction of Beatrice’s father, they decided not to risk bad publicity for such distinguished backers as Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney and distributed The Blind Man by hand.
[43] Beatrice Wood claims she wrote this editorial (I Shock Myself. 31). In response to questions posed by Serge Stauffer (Marcel Duchamp, Die Schriften, vol. 1 [Zürich: Regenbogen-Verlag 1981], 280) Duchamp said that "The Richard Mutt Case" was by the editors of Blind Man. Alice Goldfarb Marquis thinks Arensberg was probably the principal author (Marcel Duchamp: Eras, c'est la vie. A Biography [Tray, New York: Whilston Publishing Company, 1981].
[44] Comments to this effect were made by Duchamp in an unpublished interview with Peter Bunnell in 1961 (letter to the author, 5 August 1986). Jean Clair in Du- champ et la photographie [Paris: Editions du Chêne, 1977), 69, refers to the readymades as three-dimensional "snapshots."
[45] Louise Norton, "Buddha of the Bathroom," The Blind Man, no. 2 (5 May 1917), pp. 5-6.
[46] A generation ago, one had to search diligently for passing mention of the visual properties of Fountain. More recently, unequivocal comments on the aesthetic properties have been made by such authors as Kermit Champa ("Charlie Was Like That," Artforum 12, no. 6 [March 1974]); William Tucker ("The Object," Studio International [February 1973], pp. 66-70); and Alice Goldfarb Marquis (Marcel Duchamp: Eros, c'est la vie, pp. 155-56).
It is not known who initiated the association of Fountain with a seated Buddha, but Asian art was important for some of Duchamp's friends and acquaintances. Beatrice Wood knew Ananda Coomaraswamy, who was in New York in April 1917 (Beatrice Wood's unpublished diary, entry for April 28), and Stieglitz's former associate Agnes Ernst Meyer had begun collecting Asian art with the encouragement of Charles Lang Freer.
[47] H[enri] P[ierre] Roche, "Souvenirs of Marcel Duchamp," in Robert Lebel, Marcel Duchamp (New York: Grove Press, 1959), p. 87.
[48] Nicola Greeley-Smith, "Cubist Depicts Love in Brass and Glass: 'More Art in Rubbers Than in Pretty Girl!,'" The Evening World [New York], 4 April 1916, 3. Reprinted in Rudolf E. Kuenzli, ed., New York Dada, pp. 135-37.
[49] Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le cas de Richard Mutt," Le Mercure de France, 16 June 1918. Reprinted in "Echos et anecdotes inedits," Cahiers du Musee National d’Art. Moderne, no. 6 (Paris, 1981). 15. Documentation by Pierre Caizergues. Roche probably mailed a copy of The Blind Man to Apollinaire. In a postcard of 8 May 1917, Apollinaire thanks Roche for receipt of The Blindman, that is, issue no. 1 of April (Henri Pierre Roche Archives, in the Carlton Lake Collection of the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin).
[50] This photograph came to the Philadelphia Museum with the Arensberg Archives in 1950. It is described by the associate curator of photographs, Martha Chahroudi, as probably a photograph from the original negative. It is on photographic stock consistent with the period but not really consistent with Stieglitz's photographs. At one time it was mounted on a page from 291, no. 3, May 1915. I am grateful to Ms. Chahroudi for making this information available, and to Naomi Sawelson-Gorse who told me of the existence of the cropped photograph.