Monday, November 10, 2008

Urinal or art?

"Ah, this is an urinal; how could this be an art?"-This is what I thought when I looked at this picture for the first time. However, this is selected as "Most influential modern art of all time" in 2004!

Duchamp, a French artist who settled at United States, bought this urinal, signed as "R.Mutt, 1917", and submitted it to an art show as a modern art. It shocked the entire art world! It caused lot of controversy at that time. Some said that it was vulgar, and some said that it was not an art at all because it was not made by an artist. But, Duchamp disagreed with these comments. He said that it did not matter whether this art was made by his hands, but most important thing was that it was chosen by an artist (ie himself) who created new thought for it!

Duchamp was right! Amazingly, some accepted that it was an art and said that they saw Buddha with an aura around him! What a transformation! A gentlemen's urinal, that was chosen by an artist as an art, transformed into an image of Buddha! This triggered two serious questions in my mind:

1) What is a beauty? and
2) What is an art?

What is the clear definition of beauty? Nothing came to my mind, so I started exploring what are all objects/things I think as a beauty and ugly. I could not find anything common in things/objects/humans that I think beautiful. If I think the harmony of colors is beautiful, what about harmony of colors in the trash such as combination of human waste, waste meat, Garden waste, and empty coke can etc. Suddenly, it striked to me that the meaning of beauty differs person to person and we develop our taste about beauty over the period based on experience accumulated by our senses. We assess some value for everything around us, so Sunrise has higher value than the trash. That is why harmony of colors of Sunrise is beautiful and the same in a trash is most ugly! The people who attained transcendence saw everything around them with same value. They felt everything around them was beautiful, so they loved everyone. That is why Mother Teresa could touch people affected by leprosy with pure love! 

So, what is an art? Art is a vaugue word that denotes music, acting, dance, painting, sculptures, story, poems, and movies etc. An outcome of an artist's thoughts is an art. Therefore, Duchamp's philosophical mind thought that his "ReadyMades" are art! So, he stopped painting and started making readymades. Some of his famous ready mades are Bi-cyce Wheel and Monalisa parody.

What about his Fountain? Is it beaultiful? Is it an art? When I erased the value that I assesed for an urinal from my mind, it became yet another object. Now, I looked at the picture again. The shades and light made me to feel a holy person with an aura around! No wonder why it was a very influential art of all time!

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