MARCEL DUCHAMP, “The Richard Mutt Case,” (Letter to The Blind Man, May 1917)
They say any artist paying six dollars may exhibit. Mr. Richard Mutt sent in a fountain. Without discussion this article disappeared and
never was exhibited. What were the grounds for refusing Mr. Mutt's fountain:
1 Some contended it was immoral, vulgar.
2 Others, it was plagiarism, a plain piece of plumbing.
Now Mr. Mutt's fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bathtub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' show windows. Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.
As for plumbing, that is absurd. The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges.