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The Readymade Fountain was designed by Marcel Duchamp for the Society of Independent Artists Exhibition in New York. This fountain was actually rejected by the committee, who described it as a scandalous work, because it was a urinal. Duchamp did pay the fee for the exhibition, and according to the rules all works should be accepted from any artist who had paid the fee. Many artists, today, look at this work as avant-garde and replicas have been commissioned in the 1960s and are not located in many different museums.

There are many versions of how this interesting fountain came to be. One states that Duchamp bought the urinal from the J.L. Mott Iron works, and brought it to his studio, moved it to a position 90 degrees from its normal position, and thus he created the fountain. Another theory, comes from a letter Duchamp wrote to his sister, saying that a female friend had sent him the urinal as a sculpture. 

Duchamp was a member of the board of the Society of Independent Artists. The members of the board were not aware that Duchamp had entered this piece, and there was a great debate over whether this was considered to be art or not. Eventually the fountain was hidden from view during the show, causing Duchamp to resign from the board in protest. This fountain caused a lot of controversy in the world of art. The idea was that art moved from a physical form to intellectual interpretation. Duchamp work may not have been created by him, but he took the object, changed it, and created a different point of view for that object. This fountain was lost unfortunately, most likely discarded as garbage, as were many of Duchamp early readymades. 

The idea was to allow art to become interpreted by the viewer. The upside down urinal represents a idea that is tangible, but also exists in an altered position, striking down the typical definition of the object. This piece was reproduced many times, and in 2004, was actually voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century. In 2008, Duchamp was credited with inventing conceptual art. The idea of performance art has taken a strong interest in this fountain. Performance artists feel that they contribute to the overall piece by urinating in it. Many artists have done this over the years, with many of these artists being banned from the sites for damaging the art pieces, as well as the staff. 

The Readymade Fountain is therefore an iconic piece of American history, and has resulted in much debate over the years, as to whether this piece is art or not. It has fostered the idea of conceptual art, which is open to interpretation, and allowing for artists to take an object and give it a completely different use. These readymade pieces are certainly eye-catching, as to whether they are art or not, that is for the viewer to determine!