Richard-Mutt

Marcel Duchamp submitted his artwork titled “Fountain” under the name “R. Mutt” to the Society of Independent Artists on 9 April 1917. The piece was rejected (despite the exhibition rule that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the $6 fee). Duchamp then took the upside down urinal to be displayed at Alfred Stieglitz’s studio, where it was photographed.

While Duchamp is frequently cited as the sole creator of the work, who bought a standard Bedfordshire model urinal on 5th Avenue in New York City, but in a letter to his sister on 11 April 1917, Duchamp mentions a collaborator (”One of my female friends, who had adopted the male pseudonym, Richard Mutt, sent me a porcelain urinal as a sculpture“). Duchamp may not have been truthful in his letter, but 2 women artists are believed to be candidates for the creation of the work, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and Louise Norton, who was living at 110 West 88th Street in New York City (this address is partially discernible, along with “Richard Mutt,” on the paper entry ticket attached to the object in Stieglitz’s photograph).

The original “Fountain” was lost; it is suspected that Stieglitz threw it in the trash (a common fate of Duchamp’s early readymades), and Duchamp did not recreate the piece until 1950.