|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/12/03 14:04 国际在线|
In this strange world where babies are made in test tubes and people pay to drink water in restaurants, the result is perhaps not all that astonishing; a gentleman's urinal has been voted the single most influential work of art of the 20th century.
The white porcelain urinal, one of the very earliest pieces of conceptualism, shocked an unprepared world when Marcel Duchamp, the edgy French artist, stuck it in an exhibition in New York in 1917 and declared that it was art because he said so.
The poll, carried out in advance of the Turner Prize next week, explains an awful lot about today's art.
The respondents were not a sample of the public but the 500 most powerful people in the British art world - artists, dealers, critics and the curators and chatterers in museums and galleries.
Fountain, signed with the name R Mutt by Duchamp, was chosen as the most influential work by 64 per cent of those who answered, wiping the floor with Picasso's Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon (second place, 42 per cent), the starting point for Cubism and once held to be the first great masterpiece of modern art.
Not a single artist in the poll voted for the Red House by Matisse, placed fifth.
"Ten years ago Picasso or Matisse would have won. They were the twin kings of modern art but not any more it seems," said Simon Wilson, a former curator of interpretation at the Tate Gallery, hired to deconstruct the results by the Tate and Gordon's Gin, sponsor of the Turner Prize. "The result is quite a shocker but I am not surprised. Duchamp is what this generation of artists is all about. It's about what they think is art and it's about what you get in the Turner Prize nowadays.
"Matisse's art is, above all, sensuous. Among artists now, art is expected not to be comfortable. It's expected to be at the edge and have political and moral messages."