Anorak News | Taking The Piss

Taking The Piss

by | 2nd, December 2004

‘THE BBC’s Christmas schedule has a lot in common with a urinal – and not just because it’s piss-poor.

Armitage Shanks inspired a whole generation of British artists

The Corporation works very much by the same philosophy that inspired Marcel Duchamp to enter a signed urinal in a New York art exhibition in 1917 and thus give birth to the conceptualist movement.

It’s art because I say it’s art, the Frenchman told a shocked art world – just as it’s public service broadcasting because the BBC says it’s public service broadcasting.

But whereas the prognosis for a licence-fee-funded BBC is not good, Duchamp’s work has just been named the most influential work of art of the 20th Century.

The Telegraph says the urinal, signed R Mutt and entitled Fountain, attracted 64 of the vote (of 500 leading figures on the British art scene), ‘wiping the floor’ with Picasso’s Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon, the starting point of cubism, which got only 42% of the vote.

[The British art world take a very Ukrainian view of voting and percentages, we note.]

Simon Wilson, a former curator of interpretation at the Tate, said the result was ‘quite a shocker’, but not surprising.

‘Duchamp is what this generation of artists is all about,’ he said. ‘It’s about what they think is art and it’s about what you get in the Turner Prize nowadays.’

As for the work itself – a satire, he said, on the fountains painted by the Old Masters – Mr Wilson is a fan.

‘I love it,’ he says. ‘It’s got everything: rich metaphor, it’s scatological, it breaks social conventions and it’s very, very provocative.’

All things that could equally be said of Anorak’s groundbreaking Vomit In Sock installation…’

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