John Soane & The [Dis] Appeared Urinal
Sir John Soane (1753 – 1837) was one of the most inventive architects of his time. In 1833, he negotiated an Act of Parliament: to preserve his house and collection, exactly as it would be at the time of his death – and to keep it open and free for inspiration and education. Four years later, Soane died. A board of trustees took on the responsibility of upholding Soane's wishes – as they continue to do so today. According to Soane's testament, a male curator and a female inspector are to lead the museum. During this time, students also worked in his own home again and again. One of them: Alfred Stieglitz. He discovered a carefully wrapped object in the corner: The Fountain - a ready-made by Marcel Duchamp from 1917. Duchamp presented a standard white porcelain urinal, standard model Bedfordshire, by J. L. Mott Iron Works. He showed it tilted 90 degrees, thus deprived of its actual function. The dimensions are unknown, the original was lost to date. The only authentic proof is a photograph, which Alfred Stieglitz made in his Galery in New York in the year of his creation and exhibition in 1917. Was it Alfred Stieglitz who brought the urinal to the house of John Soane? We will never know. And – as he intended – Soane is still inspiring us, nearly 180 years later.
THE FOUNTAIN (Marcel Duchamp) 1917, in Sir John Soanes Museum, London, Photomontage, [210 x 297 mm]
]a[ academy of fine arts vienna - institute for arts and architecture