It all began, more or less, with a white porcelain urinal, signed R. Mutt and dated 1917. Titled Fountain, the object was submitted under pseudonym by the French artist Marcel Duchamp to the first annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists. Though it had been announced that the exhibition would be neither juried nor censored, Fountain was rejected on the grounds that it was “by no definition a work of art.” The subsequent spark of interest in the object and the theoretical issues it provoked, however, ensured Fountain a significant place in the history of Modern art.
Now Fountain is back in the news, the subject of contemporary artist Pierre Pinoncelli’s most recent caper. The artist used a small hammer to hit the object, into which he had previously