Talk:Fountain (Duchamp)

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Lead[edit]

Coldcreation has been edit-warring to revert these changes, which attempt to summarize what the rest of the article says about the controversy over who created this piece (reported today in BoingBoing, but ongoing in other sources for much longer). Coldcreation's preferred lead states flatly that it was produced by Duchamp, while the text later in the article reports on multiple possible theories for who the pseudonymous creator might be, including both Duchamp and two women. Can we have additional opinions on which lead to keep or what additional changes to the lead might be appropriate, please? In their reversions, Coldcreation cites a supposed ongoing discussion of the issue, but I see no such discussion (the last edits on this talk were a week ago), so maybe we can discuss it here. Note that I am currently taking no position on the title of the article (the subject of earlier discussions), only on what its lead should say. I note that the previous discussion of the title did include a sentiment that this issue be mentioned in the lead, and that Coldcreation's opposition there to any changes mostly focused on bad-faith accusations against proponents of change rather than on the substantive issues of the case. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:01, 3 July 2018 (UTC)

  • The vast majority of art historical understanding has the urinal as Duchamp's entree into art history....[1], [2], [3]; we need to come to an understanding here as to how to describe the strange and bizarre way this piece came into being. Best to settle the lede here...Modernist (talk) 10:40, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
  • I should add - IMO the lede should stay as is; Fountain is a 1917 work produced by Marcel Duchamp; the news media is obsessed with new twists to old stories, sells papers, like van Gogh didn't shoot himself, it was those nasty juveniles, that no one has any proof on...Modernist (talk) 12:25, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
David Eppstein If you think that is edit-warring you haven't been at Wikipedia very long. Firstly, your edit does not "summarize what the rest of the article says about the controversy over who created this piece". It unduly changes attribution or authorship. It is not a work of Dada art "conventionally credited to Marcel Duchamp" that "may have instead been created by" someone else. According to art historians, major museum curators, and the artist himself, Fountain is a work by Duchamp (also, Fountain was an anti-art Readymade, not Dada). Until there is academic consensus among scholars, experts, and the relevant specialists publish something to the contrary, there is little basis for Wikipedia to engage in speculation or conspiracy theories regarding the attribution of such a work. The claims that Freytag-Loringhoven is responsible for Fountain is easily debunked. While the controversy is worthy of mention (both in the lead and body of text), it is irresponsible at this point to alter authorship of a work that changed the course of art history based on the arguably uninformed or biased opinions of Irene Gammel, Glyn Thompson and Julian Spalding. Coldcreation (talk) 10:42, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
This is a difficult case, as there is some evidence, per Duchamp's letter to his sister, that a female co-creator was involved. On the other hand, to totally go against Duchamp's word and the opinion of art experts would be inappropriate for Wikipedia. A possible option since the controversy is covered in the text, add a brief sentence in a concluding paragraph of the lead such as "There are disputed claims that Fountain was co-created by Dada artist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven". This issue is also summarized with possible undue weight in the Dada article, in its New York section, so editors may want to look at that wording to see if it's appropriate or needs to be changed as well. Personal note to David Eppstein: I am looking for ships in Fountain, but have yet to find them. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:00, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
Is that not what my proposed text does with its "conventionally credited to Duchamp", followed by a summary of the alternative theories? It certainly does not unduly assert authorship in a case where the authorship is not clear, as the previous version does. —David Eppstein (talk) 16:09, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
Not really, because your edit removes the credit from Duchamp and calls his work into question right upfront in the lead. Wikipedia has no reason to take any credit away from Duchamp, and may never have any. Adding a non-declarative sentence at the end of the lead, which contain the words 'disputed claims', seems to cover the sources without removing Duchamp's academically accepted credit. Randy Kryn (talk) 16:16, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
My edit says "conventionally credited to Duchamp". That is not removing the credit. It then summarizes the controversy, as WP:NPOV requires us to do. If some editors here think we should be evaluating which sources are more credible and reporting their side as correct and the other side as wrong, then they themselves are doing Wikipedia wrong. And it's certainly possible to find recent academic work that does not accept Duchamp's credit uncritically; see [de 1] or [de 2] for instance. We should not make the mistake of thinking that this credit dispute is in popular sources and therefore unimportant, or of thinking that certain slow-to-react institutions' (like Wikipedia's) slowness to react means there is nothing to react to. PS Some more recent popular press links: [de 3][de 4][de 5]. —David Eppstein (talk) 16:22, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
I'm not ignoring you, I was waiting for others to reply. I don't click on many outside links, never know where it ends up and I try to keep the barrage of ads off my computer. It froze up yesterday off a Wikipedia talk-page discussion link. Was hoping that others would go in and summarize and comment about what is at the links. Thanks. Randy Kryn (talk) 22:51, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
I'm in favour of adding a sentence at the end of the lead (the sentence: There are disputed claims that Fountain was co-created by Dada artist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven" seems to do the job). The previous (conventionally credited to, but may have been made by .. Norton/von Freytag-Loringhoven) is formulated a bit too much in favor of the latter two maybe. I would reformulate the first sentence to Fountain is a 1917 pseudonymous work of Dada art, (conventionally) credited to Marcel Duchamp. Femkemilene (talk) 10:38, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
Why separate the two parts of the lead that talk about credit? That makes no sense structurally. —David Eppstein (talk) 16:43, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
If your first sentence suggestion is approved, without the unneeded parenthesis or even the word 'conventially' , I still like Johnbod's idea of changing the name to Fountain (R. Mott). Randy Kryn (talk) 13:03, 4 July 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────

  • The work is signed R. Mutt (not R. Mott). Also, until further consensus by art historians that Duchamp did not produce this work, there is no need to change the name of the article. Fountain was an anti-art Readymade, not a work of Dada. I am in favor of adding a sentence at the end of the lead to the effect; 'There are disputed claims that Fountain was co-created by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven or Louise Norton.'Coldcreation (talk) 14:40, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
Agree with this - as I said above when making the original "Mutt" suggestion. End of para 1 probably. There's a case for making R. Mutt a redirect anyway - ah, it already is. Johnbod (talk) 14:53, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
  • As I mentioned above - until art history, major museums and institutions begin to change their identification regarding Duchamp's creative ownership of the readymade Fountain the lede should remain as is. A sentence at the end of the lede might bring mention of the new controversy...Modernist (talk) 15:01, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
Good point. No need to propagate a myth, if that's indeed what it is. Coldcreation (talk) 16:22, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
"Art history" has certainly "begun to change their identification" as the citations above clearly indicate. So your "until" is vacuous. It's already true and therefore the lead should not remain as is. —David Eppstein (talk) 16:44, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
Excuse me? When MoMA, and the Met, and the Louvre, and the Tate Tate link, and the Chicago Art Institute, and The National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art all go there, then we can change...Modernist (talk) 16:50, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
(ec) Phooey! If you mean the group at the "reflist" above, the only clear RS is the long notice by Tate Britain, which takes a staunchly pro-Duchamp position. Johnbod (talk) 16:52, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
That group was from an earlier discussion about the article title, where we need to choose one title rather than report all sides. Here we are discussing the lead, a different issue where WP:NPOV requires us to report all significant aspects of the issue, and MOS:LEAD requires the lead to reflect the content of the article. I have identified multiple scholarly papers and multiple reliable popular news sources earlier in this discussion that either accept the updated credit or take the issue as under debate rather than settled. Have you read the discussion at all? But for the lazy readers I append a list of the sources I have already linked. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:05, 4 July 2018 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429843570/chapters/10.4324%2F9780429453724-11 "This letter recently gave rise to an animated discussion regarding the authorship of Fountain" (but also putting forward the theory that the female friend was really a female alter ego of Duchamp himself)
  2. ^ https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351675789/chapters/10.4324%2F9781315164991-8 "a highly plausible argument that Fountain was actually a piece by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven"
  3. ^ https://www.metafilter.com/175099/She-is-not-a-Futurist-She-is-the-future
  4. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/was-marcel-duchamps-fountain-actually-created-by-a-long-forgotten-pioneering-feminist-10491953.html
  5. ^ https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2018/06/14/famous-urinal-fountain-is-not-by-marcel-duchamp-a1606608, backing up its claims by the expertise of "four academics and historians"
David Eppstein Careful who you call lazy. Coldcreation (talk) 18:39, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
Excuse me if I'm not impressed - I can't actually see the only proper RS there because of paywalls (the Higgs extract may be another one). There's just no such thing as a "reliable popular news source" when it comes to something like this. If you knew more about the field of art history you'd know that such sources print stories about "controversies" and "new discoveries" about famous art almost daily, and the great majority of them are never widely accepted in the field. A bit of a contrast to the coverage of maths I expect. We should be following the broad consensus of scholarly opinion, paying particular attention to major museums. The long Tate piece was revised in 2015, perhaps to counter Higgs' book, and considers and essentially rejects the Baroness's role. Museums like SFMOMA owning examples of the replicas have had nearly 3 years to consider changing their attributions, & you have not produced any that have done so. Johnbod (talk) 18:47, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
This is the second time this month that an editor has insinuated that my expertise in mathematical topics is a black mark that should be held against me when I dare to edit non-mathematical topics. This sort of bad-faith assumption and anti-intellectualism should have no place on Wikipedia. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:51, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
That's why I provided quotes from the paywelled sources, so that you have to work harder to pretend they're not relevant. And yet, you took that extra step. Also, you're fine with Modernist basing their position on sources from artsy.net, theartstory.org, and an irrelevant SFMOMA link that doesn't go into any scholarly detail about the credit and is about a piece that is unquestionably by Duchamp (the 1960s replica)? —David Eppstein (talk) 19:00, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
3xec No, too lazy to read that too. But I have read the Tate & SFMOMA, among others. What extra step? They may be relevant, but they are not as authoritative as museums. Disputes over attribution are very common, and there are different ways of handling them, depending on the balance of expert opinion. This one, starting in 2002 if not before, has not reached the stage where your changes would be justified. Johnbod (talk) 19:04, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Those were the precise links that I was referring to as unusable as reliable sources. I also added a link to the Tate - did you read it? Tate link. Should major museums begin to accept the premise that Duchamp's Fountain needs to be altered; then this article should reflect that change...Modernist (talk) 19:13, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
  • By the way the Philadelphia Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the website Artsy carry a lot of weight in the contemporary art world...Modernist (talk) 19:17, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
    • I have already indicated why the SFMOMA link is irrelevant. But the Tate link is in-depth, addresses the issue, and summarizes the alternative claims for credit, including a pull quote "We do not even known with absolute certainty that Duchamp was the artist". Surely we can say as much here, rather than insisting on a lead that falsely conveys to the reader a certainty that the Tate does not have? —David Eppstein (talk) 19:21, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
      • That quote was from Camfield 1989, p.13. Tate clearly states "Fountain is one of Duchamp’s most famous works and is widely seen as an icon of twentieth-century art." Coldcreation (talk) 19:46, 4 July 2018 (UTC)
        1989 is well after the 1982 discovery of Duchamp's letter and well before the current media frenzy, so I don't see how that date in any way counts against that source. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:21, 4 July 2018 (UTC)

RFC[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
(non-admin closure) The nominator, probably out of frustration from previous inconclusive discussions, has piled on in a single RfC many issues as well as conditional ("if yes to 1&2 then what") and fuzzy queries ("what changes are needed?"). Complexity and vagueness always create fog in the dialogue. Yet, we can, if barely, save the day by focusing on what is clear.

No one can reasonably deny that the issue of authorship is of primary importance in articles about art objects. Citing in the text a claim for different authorship that has been offered by multiple reliable sources cannot therefore be assessed as giving undue weight to it. Consequently, such an alternative hypothesis cannot but be summarily reflected in the lead section, since, per WP:MOSLEAD, the lead serves as a summary of [the article's] most important contents. The only question is, therefore, whether the alternative hypothesis is supported amply enough for a mention in the text. That question seems to have already been answered since no editor has come foward demanding the relevant claims be removed from the main text.
The result, then, as most respondents have suggested, is a clear preference for both #1 and #2, i.e. to retain the alternative hypotheses in the text and retain the current, brief mention of them at the tail end of the lead section.
There were not many suggestions to insert such claims into image legends. - The Gnome (talk) 12:46, 19 October 2018 (UTC)


We keep having discussions on this that peter out without reaching a clear consensus, so it is my hope that a formal RFC will bring in a broader set of editors and improve the state of affairs.

Historically this artwork has been credited as being by Marcel Duchamp. But, it was originally signed under a pseudonym and in the 1980s a letter was discovered in which Duchamp credited an unnamed female friend for the work. Many recent sources, including both popular press, academic journal articles, and the Tate Museum (see discussion), have felt it necessary to at least mention this issue. Several of these sources outline alternative theories for its authorship and the identity of this friend, including Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Louise Norton, or a female alter ego of Duchamp himself. Our article, too, describes these alternative theories in its body, but the lead (which by MOS:LEAD should accurately summarize the body) instead flatly says "produced by Marcel Duchamp") and the lead image (redundantly) also says "by Marcel Duchamp" without qualification. We have had multiple past discussions on this issue but they have tended to peter out inconclusively, and then their lack of conclusion has been used repeatedly by editors Coldcreation and Modernist as a reason for keeping the status quo, with any changes to the lead being reverted with edit summaries like "needs to be settled at talk page" or "per talk". In the meantime, another editor Trishcan has entered the debate with an alternative lead that in my mind goes too far in another direction, going into excessive detail in the lead about the authorship question and choosing sides in favor of Elsa.

So, can we have a wider discussion, please, on the following five questions:

  1. Should the alternative authorship theories be described in the body of the article, as they now are?
  2. Should the lead summarize that part of the article?
  3. Should the authorship of the artwork be mentioned at all in the caption of the lead image?
  4. If the answers to parts (1) and (2) are yes, is the proposed summary in this old version of the lead accurate or, if not, what changes are needed to make it conform to MOS:LEAD?
  5. Alternatively, is Trishcan's lead, crediting EvFL rather than Duchamp, a better starting point for a new lead?

We have also had discussions here about whether "(Duchamp)" is an accurate disambiguator for the article title but I would prefer to keep that out of the RFC for now. For the record, my own answers to these questions are (1) yes, with no additional changes needed; (2) yes, (3) no, (4) yes, (5) no. (In more detail re 4 vs 5: We should teach the controversy rather than picking sides, per WP:NPOV. And I don't think it is currently the consensus of art scholarship that EvFL created it. Rather, there are still many scholars who hold to the Duchamp theory, and others who would more likely say that it's unclear rather than picking any alternative theory. So until such a consensus is formed I think saying so here is premature.) —David Eppstein (talk) 21:41, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

  • Brief sentence at conclusion of lead. I think a sense of a consensus was reached above to add a one-sentence paragraph at the end of the lead saying something like: "There are disputed claims that Fountain was co-created by Dada artist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven." The piece has been recognized and not de-recognized as Duchamp's by art experts and museums (as noted in the above discussions), so any major change in the lead sentences, in attribution, and in other forms of popular-media digression will have to wait until the major art critics and art museums agree. That's a long way off, if ever, and Wikipedia should wait (and may end up waiting a long time, into the era of "Holograph Wikipedia" and beyond...) until they change their analysis and attribution. Randy Kryn (talk) 21:48, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Repeating What I said Before - until art history, major museums and institutions begin to change their identification regarding Duchamp's creative ownership of the readymade Fountain the lede should remain as is. A sentence at the end of the lede might bring mention of the new controversy...Modernist (talk) 22:40, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
I can't tell whether this means you prefer absolutely no change to the lead, or whether like Randy you are in favor of a lead that says "by Duchamp. blah blah blah other stuff. Maybe not by Duchamp." Can you please give more direct answers to my questions? —David Eppstein (talk) 23:29, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
Repeating What I said Before - the lede should remain as is...Modernist (talk) 01:24, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Leave as is. According to Tate, "Fountain is one of Duchamp’s most famous works", not one of Freytag-Loringhoven's. Until that description (and those of other museums and art historians) changes, there is no justification in expanding upon what appears, at best, to be a conspiracy theory. Coldcreation (talk) 00:12, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
So, to be clear, your answers to #1, #2, and #3 are yes, no, yes (and #4 and #5 moot because of those answers)? —David Eppstein (talk) 00:15, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
To be clear, my answer is leave as is for now. Coldcreation (talk) 00:19, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
This sort of passive-agressive "I won't clarify anything in the discussion and will then use the unclarity of the discussion as an excuse to avoid any change" is exactly why I called the RFC. —David Eppstein (talk) 00:31, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
For a more in depth explanation see discussions above. This is the third or fourth on the topic. Coldcreation (talk) 00:36, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
Yes, this "we have discussed this before" is another part of the same passive-aggressive use of the fact that past discussions tailed off to enforce the status quo, and the unclear conclusions of those past discussions is exactly why I am asking for a more clear statement of everyone's position. For that matter, I have yet to see a clear statement from anyone justifying a lead that does not summarize the article; all arguments on this point have been on whether the attribution to Duchamp is still widely accepted (a matter for the in-depth article content) not on whether it is appropriate to have a lead that fails to summarize the text of the article. —David Eppstein (talk) 00:43, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
That's a reason I suggest the brief but clear sentence for the lead, because it summarizes a portion of the page. But Wikipedia should not cast "official" encyclopedic doubt on the conclusions of the major museums and art experts, which is why the language should use "disputed" or even a stronger term in a very brief lead summary. I'd rather leave it off, per Coldcreation, but the page should be summarized in the lead even if it will then contain a recently-popularized but questionable "theory". Wouldn't mind if no mention was made in the lead, although surrealism would demand it (as this RfC, hopefully, will escalate into the realm of artwork). Randy Kryn (talk) 00:58, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
No need to violate WP:Neutral point of view by giving undue attention to less important controversies in the lead section (per MOS:LEAD). Coldcreation (talk) 01:01, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
Good point, and I will give thought to consider changing my first comment. In the meantime I'd like to time-machine back to hear the learned opinion of editor R. Mutt 1917, esquire. Randy Kryn (talk) 01:07, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment (1) yes; (2) yes, a succinct sentence at the end of the lead would satisfy the need to summarize the article without giving the matter undue weight; (3) maybe a brief "often attributed to Marcel Duchamp" would work; (4) yes; (5) no. XOR'easter (talk) 16:24, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Brief sentence at end of lead is generous. The "previous version" cited at 4 above is akin to teach the Controversy, ie it is giving undue WEIGHT to a fringe-y theory, rather than discussing the work itself. Even if proven that the artwork was 'created' by someone other than Duchamp, so long as authorities credit it to him - so should we. As someone who has had good ideas 'borrowed' by others (not in visual arts), I know that it is the one who "takes the cow to market' who gets the rosette ! Pincrete (talk) 16:07, 23 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment (1) yes; (2) yes, and at the very least "produced by" should be replaced by "traditionally attributed to"; (3) no; there is too much controversy (4) yes; (5) no.
I feel that there is ample reason to express doubt on the traditional belief that "Fountain" was submitted by Duchamps: his own letter, and the sisterpiece "God" now co-attributed to EvFL being two major indications to the contrary. And perhaps we should not rely too much on the Tate for guidance in this case. For they have a vested interest in keeping the old belief upright. Just like the other 4 or so museums who were unfortunate enough to acquire a replica of a readymade, ordained by its presumed "original artifician".
I also urge for a proper translation of the key phrase in Duchamps' letter (in the section about the controversy). Assuming that the French original was indeed as shown, the word "me" in "sent me a porcelain urinal" must be removed, or replaced with "in". Obbart (talk) 02:38, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
The translation of the letter has been corrected. Coldcreation (talk) 03:50, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
  • (Summoned by bot) Inclusion of a neutrally-worded sentence or phrase in the lead noting the existence of the controversy seems appropriate. Compassionate727 (T·C) 02:45, 1 August 2018 (UTC)
  • There should be nothing written in the lead about possible misattribution of "Fountain" to Duchamp as this is a distraction from the implications of the piece itself. There is a paragraph called "Controversy" and that is entirely where this matter should be addressed. There is no sense in strewing this matter about willy-nilly. It need not be in the lede. Who cares if Duchamp made it or Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven made it? The artist is not what matters. The work of art is far more important than the artist. We are writing an article supposedly about a work of art. The bulk of reliable sources support that Duchamp is the artist therefore we should confine the dissenting opinion to one paragraph where that initiative can be fully explored without tainting what I think is the larger purpose of this article which is documenting the existence of the work of art itself. Bus stop (talk) 07:45, 1 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment (1) yes (2) yes, but subtly. First sentence to 'attributed to', without the word traditionally and a succinct sentence at the end of lead. The current first sentence is also misleading without considering the controversy as Duchamp did not produce the sculpture, but claims to have bought it and promoted it to a piece of art. (3) no, no reason to (4) no, this gives undue weight to a controversy that is has been mentioned in the scientific literature a couple of times; maybe later if more scientific papers/scientists/major institutions follow. (5) we should credit Duchamp in such a way that leaves only a little bit (not too much!) doubt he came up with this art work and mention the controversy as well. Femkemilene (talk) 07:56, 1 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Brief sentence at or near conclusion of lead - per my comments in earlier sections. Johnbod (talk) 02:21, 4 August 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Seeallthis[edit]

Hiplibrarianship and Coldcreation have found a new and uninteresting thing to edit-war about: whether a source labeled as a "blog" on seeallthis.com can be used as a reliable source. So in an effort to cut this off, I'd like to start a discussion here instead. Coldcreation's position appears to be that it's a blog and therefore unreliable. However, that's an overly strict reading of our policy. Per WP:RS "Some news outlets host interactive columns that they call "blogs", and these may be acceptable as sources if the writers are professional journalists or professionals in the field on which they write, and the blog is subject to the news outlet's full editorial control." Seeallthis.com appears to be a Dutch art magazine with the usual level of editorial control that one would expect of an art magazine. However, it's a minor-enough magazine that we don't have an article on it. Can we maybe agree that (1) it's not inherently unreliable, but (2) because the same material is already covered by sources that are more well known and at least as reliable, there is no good reason to use this as a source? That is, even though (I believe) this source is not forbidden by policy, I think it would be preferable not to use it. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:12, 4 August 2018 (UTC)

See All This is an interesting website. I could go along with a brief sentence at or near the conclusion of the lead alerting the reader to conflicting claims regarding artwork and artist. Bus stop (talk) 01:17, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
I appreciate David Eppstein affirming my interpretation of the WP:RS guideline, insofar as SeeAllThis is "not inherently unreliable" for art topics. I was certainly not attempting to "edit-war" with Coldcreation, although I do bristle at any hint of wikilawyering. For what it's worth, my initial contribution was made without awareness of the discussion on this page; I'd simply read the piece and made a good-faith addition of a reference, where there previously had been none. All that said, I still think the current version could be improved, and will proceed, with all due respect. — HipLibrarianship talk 02:40, 15 August 2018 (UTC)

HOW many degrees?[edit]

180, not 90, shurely? -- A.S. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.109.186.140 (talk) 21:21, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

Yes, and "around it's axis" seems weird as well. Lisiate (talk) 08:26, 22 November 2018 (UTC)

I think they really do mean 90 degrees. What was horizontal (the basin that one pisses into) is now vertical, and what was vertical (the pipe that the water drops into it through) is now horizontal, pointing to the viewer of the photo. So if it started out pointing backwards, it would rotate 90 degrees to get to the displayed pointing-upwards state, through a horizontal axis passing from left to right. But that's a weird choice of starting position. From the standard starting position that one would see in a restroom, to get to the displayed position, one would instead have a 180 degree rotation, through a diagonal axis pointing towards the viewer and upward. As you say, it's odd to call that diagonal "its axis". —David Eppstein (talk) 08:33, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
The piece is rotated exactly 90 degrees on an axis. That is what the sources say. The rotation occurs (to a close approximation) in the line of sight (as pictured in the 1917 photo). Because the object is 3-dimensional, there is no preferred frame of reference. The object is meant to be seen from all sides. Coldcreation (talk) 08:53, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
The piece does not have an axis of symmetry. It has a plane of symmetry, reflecting through which would produce no change to the image. Your description of the rotation is plainly false, as anyone with any ability at 3d visualization can plainly see. And your "The rotational symmetry referring to 90 degrees is a symmetry with respect to some (not all) rotations in m-dimensional space." comes across as meaningless buzzword salad. —David Eppstein (talk) 17:23, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
I made this edit. Perhaps this is acceptable. Bus stop (talk) 17:51, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
Not bad. I added to it. There are multiple sources for this. Coldcreation (talk) 23:14, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
You added back clearly false claims that do more to cast doubt on the reliability of their source than they do to clarify the shape and orientation of the piece. As I just wrote in my edit summary, "If you found a published source saying "it was painted cherry red" would you state it as factual in the article despite the obvious contradiction with the photo? This is equally egregiously false." —David Eppstein (talk) 23:32, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
What do you disagree with, that it was rotated 90 degrees, or that it was rotated on its axis? (Or both?) Coldcreation (talk) 23:37, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
Both. There is no symmetry axis, so the phrase "its axis" is completely meaningless. And it was rotated 180 degrees from its normal position, not 90, a fact that should be obvious by examining the photo. So the version you are edit-warring to include manages to cram two falsehoods into a single sentence. If the art historians who wrote the sources write clearly counterfactual claims, it doesn't mean we have to follow them. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:43, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
The rotation is exactly ninety degrees from its functional position. The axis is an imaginary line about which the urinal was rotated. Nothing more, nothing less. Coldcreation (talk) 00:04, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
David Eppstein—what is the relationship between a wall and a floor? The answer is 90 degrees. The plumbing fixture is normally mounted on a wall. The side that is normally attached to the wall can be called the "back" of the plumbing fixture, which is to say that the back of the fixture is in the same orientation as a wall. In its new orientation as a Duchampian work of art, the "back" of the fixture is in the same orientation as the floor. The plumbing fixture was reorientated by the same number of degrees as that which distinguishes a wall from a floor. That number would be 90 degrees. Here is a good image of a protractor. Bus stop (talk) 00:18, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
The wall and the floor are indeed at 90 degrees to each other. And the plane of the basin of the sculpture in its displayed position is at 90 degrees from the plane of the basin in its normal position. That DOES NOT MEAN that the two positions can be reached from each other by a 90 degree rotation. Look, why don't you try explaining to me (1) what line in space, in the space of the Stieglitz photo, is the one that it was rotated through, (2) in what sense you think this line can reasonably be described as a "symmetry axis", and (3) what is the result of rotating the sculpture by 90 degrees around that line? Or, if you are not one of those people comfortable with rotating 3d objects in your imagination (and there's no shame in that) then perhaps you should leave the conversation to those who are. —David Eppstein (talk) 00:26, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
There are possible rotations of 90 degrees that would not result in orientation seen in the photograph in the article. But there is one rotation of 90 degrees that would result in the orientation seen in the photograph. Would you agree? Bus stop (talk) 00:39, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
I've posed the question here. Bus stop (talk) 00:45, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
There are lots of 90 degree rotations that would result in the one seen in the photograph. For instance if you were looking at it from the side, and rotated it through a vertical axis, you would get a front-on view like the one in the photograph. Or if it were tilted on its side, and you rotated it through an axis running from your eye to the center of the object, it could be oriented to be upright again. However, there is no 90 degree rotation that changes the front-on view that you see in the photograph into a view with the basin level and pointing towards you, ready for you to piss into it, nor is there one that reverses that change. To get between those two views, you have to rotate 180 degrees, through a diagonal axis. (Or alternatively you could reflect through a diagonal plane. Or if you really really like coordinate axes rather than diagonal axes, you could rotate 180 degrees through a vertical axis, and then another 90 degrees through a horizontal axis in the plane of the photo.) —David Eppstein (talk) 00:47, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
We can walk around this sculpture. The photograph is showing one view. We don't place any special importance on the view of the work seen in the photograph. When we speak of the number of degrees it has been rotated, we disregard the various vantage points from which the work can be viewed or photographed. Bus stop (talk) 01:21, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Do you usually look at paintings from the back side? Or busts — do you usually pay particular attention to the back of the head? In fact, in this case it would not be possible to view the same object from the opposite side, because there's a big painting blocking the view. And how many restrooms have you been in that allow you to walk all the way around each urinal? To continue the painted red analogy, you are saying "but maybe if I look at it through sufficiently rose-tinted glasses it might be true". Maybe, but if pigs had wings they could fly. That doesn't make them able to fly now, it doesn't make it red now, and it doesn't make the normal angle of the urinal as you would use it and the angle as displayed to viewers be 90 degrees rotated from each other. It is not something that could become true if you squint hard enough, it was just a mistake by some non-geometers that non-geometers are continuing to push here because they don't see how mistaken it is. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:30, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────@David Eppstein: There is one axis about which the object is rotated ninety degrees. Art historians are correct. (Like a coffee cup placed on its side). Coldcreation (talk) 07:06, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

And what line in space, as viewed from the viewpoint of Stieglitz's photo, is that axis, pray tell? (Also, please do not alter previously-replied-to-comments, as you just did, to make the replies nonsensical. Your previous posts said that the axis was the (nonexistent) "axis of symmetry".) —David Eppstein (talk) 07:09, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
@David Eppstein: I correct my previous post. It is not an axis of symmetry. An axis of rotation is located on the far side, as viewed in the 1917 photo, just under the small holes. The line is touching the base of the object (at one point), is parallel to the floor, parallel to the screw holes, extending left and right. This is the most obvious axis to rotate the urinal 90 degrees, since the object can be pivoted on a point. There exist many more (on the plane of the top of the base, parallel to the above mentioned axis). In fact, there exists an infinite number of axes, all parallel to this line (on and off the plane). See Axis–angle representation. Art historians are correct indeed. Coldcreation (talk) 07:47, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Ok, the left-right horizontal axis. Now imagine that as the axis of a wheel, and rotate the wheel 90 degrees in either direction (the direction that, for a wheel of a vehicle, would take you forward or backward). If you rotate from the position of the Stieglitz photo 90 degrees in the backward direction, the basin is facing down and you would have to piss up to use it. If you rotate 90 degrees in the forward direction, there is a wall on which the urinal is mounted, separating you from it — you have gone into the wrong restroom.* In neither case do you get a urinal in its normal orientation, facing you, and by the same reasoning if you start from the urinal in its normal orientation you won't get what you see in the photo. You could get the photo from a normally oriented urinal by two steps: rotate 180 degrees around a vertical axis, and then turn the wheel 90 degrees (or vice versa) but that's not a single rotation. You could walk around to the back side of the urinal, rotating yourself around that same vertical axis instead of it, and then rotate it, but sgain that's not just a single step. Or, you could get it in one step, by a single rotation, of 180 degrees through an axis of symmetry that extends diagonally upwards from the urinal to above your head. But not in a single step by a 90 degree rotation. —David Eppstein (talk) 08:33, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
* or maybe the right restroom, if you are the female artist whose credit Duchamp stole... I assume we're not going to take this debate as evidence for the "a woman did it" theory.
As explained above, there exist an infinite number of axes about which Fountain can be rotated 90 degrees that place it in an upright (functional) position. For the proofs, see Axis–angle representation. Coldcreation (talk) 08:52, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Starting from random positions that aren't its normal position, sure. To get from the normal position to the photo position, no. And if you think the linked article explains that issue, you are wrong. It describes the three-dimensional space of all possible rotations (two dimensions on the unit sphere for the axis, one for the rotation angle) but it does not say that it's possible for more than one element of that space to produce the same effect. —David Eppstein (talk) 08:55, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
In another way, there exist an infinite number of axes about which Fountain can be rotated 90 degrees from its upright (functional) position, to the position chosen by Marcel Duchamp. Art historians are correct. Coldcreation (talk) 08:58, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
David Eppstein—the urinal can be viewed in a "three-quarter view" or "full-face view". Without knowing the starting point or the ending point as concerns these two possible views, how can you calculate that a reorientation of 180 degrees has taken place? Bus stop (talk) 14:19, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
"Upright" is not the same as "functional". There are an infinite number of upright orientations that are not functional, i.e., any rotation around a vertical axis that leaves the device facing away from the user.
Either go all out and specify a full set of Euler angles, or just discard the pseudo-precision and make the meaningful statement that he laid it on its back so that the urine-collecting surface faced forward. XOR'easter (talk) 14:56, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
I agree with the language "laid it on its back" but not with the language "so that the urine-collecting surface faced forward". It can also be viewed in "three-quarter view", in which case the "urine-collecting surface" is not facing directly forward. Bus stop (talk) 15:12, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
I agree with the way it has been described by art historians; the object was rotated 90 degrees from its otherwise functional position (see references within the article, and many more in the relevant literature). Note, this object, as many 3-dimensional sculptures, are meant to be seen from a variety of angles, placed in such a way that the viewer can walk around the artwork. The 1917 photo is not a special or preferred frame of reference. Coldcreation (talk) 16:04, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Here's an interesting find, by a professor of art history at the University of Iowa, Craig Adcock:

A central part of the Fountain's geometry is its inversion—a rotation that changes it from a drain into a fountain. Moreover, its 90° rotation can be taken as a reference to the flipflops involved in four-dimensional rotation. As we have seen, such a rotation through the fourth dimension results in a left-right reversal and an inside–outside transformation. If an object such as the Fountain were so rotated, it would undergo, at least in metaphorical terms, a concavity-convexity transposition. [...] the Fountain can only be rotated ninety degrees; it cannot take a full demi-tour through the fourth dimension and thereby have its "female" concavity transformed into "male" convexity. (Source: Adcock, Craig. Duchamp's Eroticism: A Mathematical Analysis, Dada/Surrealism 16 (1987): 149-167).

Coldcreation (talk) 16:28, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

Ok, so you've found more art historians who think that geometry is like artspeak — if you string together words in an evocative way you get something usable as a description. But that's not how geometry actually works, and it's not actually meaningful. Look, since you're so stubborn at believing what the books say instead of the clear evidence of your eyes, here's another conceptual proof that the rotation can only be 180 degrees (no matter how many dimensions you use). Normally, a urinal has its basin level, on its bottom plane, and its backsplash vertical, on its rear plane, right? But this sculpture has the backsplash where the basin should be and the basin where the backsplash should be. They have swapped places. If you repeated the same transformation that you used to get it into that position (whatever that transformation is) they would swap places again, and be back to their starting point. But the only rotations with the property that you can repeat them twice and get back to your starting point are the 180 degree rotations. If you use a 90 degree rotation, you would have to repeat it four times to return to your starting point. (Also, the only rotations through higher dimensions that end up back in the same 3d space are the 180 degree rotations or the rotations that have 3d space as their axis and leave it unchanged.) —David Eppstein (talk) 17:14, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Nothing but WP:OR: Any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged must be supported by a reliable source. No reliable source can be found that backs up what you write, relative to this artwork. Coldcreation (talk) 17:26, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Sources that are mathematically incorrect cannot be considered reliable for the purposes of mathematical statements, whatever their merits might be in other regards. For example, Adcock (1987) says, "Rotation is a way of transforming -dimensional objects into -dimensional objects" (p. 159), which is nonsensical as written. If I have a piece of paper here on my desk and I draw a circle upon it, and then I rotate that piece of paper so that it is vertical, the circle remains a circle. The 2-dimensional stays 2-dimensional. One could take the union of all the rotated copies of a flat shape to form a solid of revolution, but then there is nothing special about rotation here: a mundane translation works just as well (for example, the cylinder produced by vertically translating the rim in basketball). Moreover, whatever it means to "metaphorically" exchange "'female' concavity" with "'male' convexity", it is not the case that a four-dimensional rotation turns a convex body into a concave one or vice versa. Rotations are linear transformations and convexity-preserving. (Given points and , and a rotation , the image under of a convex combination is , which is a convex combination of the images under of and .) Adcock's Figure 2 (which he reproduces from a 1903 book by Esprit Jouffret) actually illustrates this: a triangle is mapped to a triangle, and a tetrahedron to a tetrahedron. In both cases, the convex hull of a set of vertices becomes the convex hull of a new set of vertices. XOR'easter (talk) 17:45, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Art historians are disregarding the vantage point of the viewer. Art historians are not concerned that a urinating person stands "in front" of the object. Art historians are not concerned that museum-goers enjoy the same view Stieglitz seems to enjoy. Art historians disregard the vantage point of the viewer. Art historians address the simplest possible reorientation to describe the artist's reorientation of the object. This is entirely acceptable because everyone reading this knows that a three-dimensional object can potentially be viewed from 360 degrees by walking around it and that to do so human beings commonly walk on floors which in turn are commonly oriented horizontally. The notion that the reorientation is anything other than 90 degrees is wrong unless we specify a starting perspective and an ending perspective. As Coldcreation has correctly pointed out the perspective of Stieglitz is not special in any way. And as I have already said, there are "three-quarter views" that are perfectly acceptable. Even a urinal mounted in a wall in its normal position can be viewed in "three-quarter view". Art historians are quite correctly disregarding the varying standard perspectives on this object. In colloquial speech the object has been reoriented by 90 degrees. Colloquial speech attributes nothing special to either the perspectives of urinating men or throngs of museum-goers when describing Duchamp's reorientation of the object. Bus stop (talk) 18:10, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
@XOR'easter: Though interesting, there is nothing about convexity in the Wikipedia Fountain article. Nor is there anything mathematically incorrect. This object was rotated 90 degrees, from its intended position (mounted on a wall), to a position lying flat on a base. Coldcreation (talk) 18:14, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
A citation to an article full of pseudomathematics is not good practice for an encyclopedia. And if "colloquial speech" is so important, why not just say that the object was laid flat on its base? Or, as the article currently states, "reoriented with its basin in the position of its backsplash and vice versa" — a statement which nicely characterizes the transformation without reference to any preferred vantage point. Why is a number even necessary? XOR'easter (talk) 18:31, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
...because the 90 degree rotation (as mentioned in the article main text) is precisely what multiple reliable sources correctly state. Coldcreation (talk) 18:35, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
If we want to avoid the perceived issue that some are pointing to we could use the wording "In Duchamp's presentation the urinal's orientation was altered from its usual positioning." A sighted person would view the Stieglitz photo and understand the nature of the reorientation. Unfortunately the wording would fail to inform the sight-impaired of the reorientation the object has undergone in becoming an art object. XOR'easter makes a good suggestion: "why not just say that the object was laid flat on its base?" Bus stop (talk) 18:43, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Laid flat on its wall-plate, maybe. The surface it was laid flat on is not normally its base (bottom surface). The non-geometric part of Coldcreation's 4d quote, about the inversion of female to male (caused by the change of orientation of the down-pipe to horizontal), may also be worth mentioning. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:54, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
I like "laid flat on its wall-plate". XOR'easter (talk) 19:03, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Yes, "laid flat on its wall-plate" is good. Bus stop (talk) 19:08, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Right now, in the lead it is written: "In Duchamp's presentation the urinal's orientation was altered from its usual positioning." That is fine for the lead. In the main body: "reoriented it 90 degrees from its originally intended position of use"... per references. Fine! Coldcreation (talk) 19:11, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

No, that is false. It does not become any more true just because you can find art historians who think that geometry is a form of mysticism where you can write anything you want and make it become true. We do not need to continue propagating falsehoods in the encyclopedia. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:14, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

Coldcreation (talk) 19:23, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

Do you think that image provides an intelligent contribution to the subject? —David Eppstein (talk) 19:37, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
The "wall-plate", first on the vertical line, is rotated to lay flat on the horizontal line. Coldcreation (talk) 19:47, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
@David Eppstein: What you propose, 180 degree rotation, gives this:

Coldcreation (talk) 19:51, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

That's a 180-degree rotation through a horizontal axis, extending towards the viewer from the urinal. The rotation I'm discussing is the one through a diagonal axis, extending upward from the urinal towards a point above the viewer. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:57, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Nonsense WP:OR. Coldcreation (talk) 20:01, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
It's obvious to anyone with eyes to see. We don't need sources to write that 1+1=2 or that the night sky is dark or that the moon is not made of green cheese. The diagonal axis is (not coincidentally) exactly halfway between the vertical line that the wallplate starts on and the horizontal line that it ends on. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:02, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Good luck finding a reliable source for your WP:OR. Coldcreation (talk) 20:09, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
I'll be happy enough if we get the falsehoods that you continue to insist on despite their falsehood eradicated from the article. As for finding reliable sources, the tried-and-tested method for what to do when the claims one wants to source have no reference is to publish an article containing them and then use it. Your intransigence tempts me to try it in this case, but that might be more effort than I'd want to put into such a small matter. (Then again, academics have already put in a lot of effort into minor details of the geometry of art; see e.g. the debate over the shape of the polyhedron in Dürer's Melancholia.) —David Eppstein (talk) 20:10, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── The animation is obviously not the rotation that David Eppstein has described, starting with his very first comment in this section. I mean, really obviously. XOR'easter (talk) 20:20, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

I found a couple of published sources for the 180 degree rotation, by the way:
  • Sarıkartal, Zekiye; Kılıç, Veysel (2016), "What Do Images Mean in Visual Semiotics?", DergiPark: Istanbul Aydın University Journal of Fine Arts Faculty, Istanbul Aydin University, 2: 1–13, he also rotated the form 180 degrees and mounted it on a pedestal
  • Andina, Tiziana (November 2017), "Exemplarity in Contemporary Arts", Law & Literature: 1–13, doi:10.1080/1535685x.2017.1379190, the urinal Fountain was exhibited rotated by 180 degrees
David Eppstein (talk) 21:50, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
Also
  • D'Silva, Eliot (2010-03-02). "Arts Comment: In defence of modern art". Varsity. Retrieved 2018-11-23. Consisting of a readymade urinal purchased from Fifth Avenue's J. L. Mott Iron Works, rotated 180 degrees, and tagged with a pseudonym
XOR'easter (talk) 00:36, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
I also turned up an example of what would appear to be a perfectly reliable source (a book from Oxford University Press by Bruce Lincoln) that just says the urinal was exhibited "upside down". I'm a bit fond of the conclusion, actually:
And for all that inversion can be an effective instrument of agitation, skillful use of which can prompt significant reform (as in the story of Menenius Agrippa) or radical upheaval (as with Duchamp's Fountain), dominant orders are capable of employing their own symbolic inversions to defend against just such threats. To be sure it is a powerful act to turn the world upside down, but a simple 180-degree rotation is not difficult to undo. An order twice inverted is an order restored, perhaps even strengthened as a result of the exercise.
Lincoln, Bruce (1992). Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195360004. OCLC 730667787.
XOR'easter (talk) 00:52, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

Notice for lurkers and future historians specializing in Wikipedia discussion pages, this topic now has a break-off section, 90° rotation, two sections below Randy Kryn (talk) 14:53, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

(Coming in late, I haven't tried to read the whole mess.) It seems to me that the question of degrees and axes is meaningless unless we know
  • the orientation of the wall on which the urinal was (or would have been) mounted, and
  • the orientation of the display,
in the (incidentally rotating) reference frame of the Earth. Is either known? I doubt it. Therefore,
why not forget about formal rotations and simply say that the urinal is placed on its back? —Tamfang (talk) 05:31, 26 November 2018 (UTC)


@Lisiate, David Eppstein, Coldcreation, Bus stop, XOR'easter, Randy Kryn, and Tamfang: Here is a simple diagram presenting how one can turn an urinal into the Fountain by 90° or 180° rotation (images in the upper and the lower row, respectively) with appropriate choice of the rotation axis (fat red lines).

Rotation of an urinal into the Fountain.png

Best regards, CiaPan (talk) 14:22, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

@Lisiate, David Eppstein, Coldcreation, Bus stop, XOR'easter, Randy Kryn, and Tamfang: One can possibly do it with any intermediate angle of rotation – the middle row of an updated image shows an example for 120°. --CiaPan (talk) 16:44, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

Huh, that went further than I'd expected. Thanks everyone for clearing that up. (Personally I think 'tipped on it's back' would be how I'd describe it). Lisiate (talk) 20:48, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

Minority view: source?[edit]

The lead states “Some scholars have suggested that the original work was by a female artist rather than Duchamp, but this is a minority view among historians”. Which sources in the article body support the claim that this is minority view? Might this be reworded to something more neutral? JeroenHoek (talk) 18:09, 10 October 2018 (UTC)

How would you suggest it be reworded? Bus stop (talk) 18:27, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
Perhaps something that suggests that the origin of the work is disputed by some, but that the matter has as of yet not been resolved? There have been a number of articles in well-regarded newspapers that put forward the theory that Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was the creator of the work. It seems to be more than a fringe theory at this point, and I think that the article shouldn't conclude that this is a minority view without proper attestation, because that phrasing carries the connotation of dismissing those claims out of hand (which is not something that Wikipedia should do lightly). JeroenHoek (talk) 13:53, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Have you read the lengthy recent discussions above? Or the reference now added to the lead? It is a minority view. Johnbod (talk) 18:41, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
I have. I agree with David Eppstein that the current state is that while the work is conventionally attributed to Marcel Duchamp, this attribution is not nearly as certain as it once was. From the sources and publications I've read I don't get the impression that the standpoint that the work may not have been created by Duchamp (although it could have been) is a minority view among historians. To be clear: I can't quantify it at all; minority or majority. The article should reflect that unless there is a source that does provide that quantification. JeroenHoek (talk) 13:53, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Changed text to "Some scholars have suggested that the original work was by a female artist rather than Duchamp, but there is no documentary evidence to support this claim." (Source: Tate and references therein). "As Gammel acknowledged, however, there is no contemporary documentary evidence or testimony that points to the involvement of von Freytag-Loringhoven in Fountain. The Baroness, who was certainly not shy of controversy, seems never to have claimed to have been involved...". Coldcreation (talk) 14:17, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
I have to say I'm dubious about that - Duchamp's letter is prima facie "documentary evidence", whoever else that is taken to indicate. But "articles in well-regarded newspapers" mean absolutely nothing, except that it is a good news story with a feminist angle. The wording was "a minority view among historians", not "among journalists". "Minority view" ≠ fringe view. Your own formulation "the current state is that while the work is conventionally attributed to Marcel Duchamp, this attribution is not nearly as certain as it once was" does equate to "minority view". Johnbod (talk) 14:57, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
The letter is not documentary evidence implicating the Baroness. It is therefore only circumstantial evidence. The rest agreed. I will revert my edit in the article. Coldcreation (talk) 15:27, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

90° rotation[edit]

Art historians generally refer to the position of Duchamp's Fountain as rotated 90° from its originally intended position. Other solutions exist, such as a rotation of 180° (about a diagonal axis), but the 90° rotation is preferred for it's simplicity, clarity, beauty, and elegance. The rotation is important because it represents a modification of the ready-made object. By choosing the urinal, signing it, and repositioning it, the found object became art. The 90° rotation was sufficient to satisfy the artists goal. (Some historians consider only the un-altered objects to be readymades). The diagrams below exemplify why the vast majority of art historians speak correctly of a 90° transformation, with respect to Fountain:

For a more detailed description see the file pages at Commons. Coldcreation (talk) 08:35, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

This pic deserves an award for intellectual(?)/graphical(?)/intentional(?) dishonesty illusion.
I apologize for using in a first rage the above -stricken- word. 10:59, 24 November 2018 (UTC) Purgy (talk) 08:48, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
@Purgy Purgatorio: Are you upset that a 'urinal' has become an icon of 20th century art? Coldcreation (talk) 09:08, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
When I started to reply the above question looked this: Would you care to explain why? My intended answer, now obsolete was this:

Please, allow for some time, especially, since the pic has changed meanwhile, to compose an appropriate explanation, void of WP:OR and fitting to the artsy-fartsy imagery of serious geometry in higher dimensions, sketched in the thread above. As a first hint, I point to the misleading arc, labeled 90°, between two lines, insinuating to be Cartesian axes belonging to a rotated body, which they do not. BTW, the last, now new, pic in the triptychon seems to involve an additional 180° rotation. I am not sure if this makes up for 270° in art-circles.

The answer to the current question is: No, I personally stopped to care, among other things, for the kind of art, described as "Is this to be depolluted, or is it art?" I leave it to others to set prices for art-objects, to select their icons for and of whatever—a kind of freedom I enjoy. My interest is how dumb something can be to be accepted, e.g. inversion of convexity. Purgy (talk) 10:59, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
@Purgy Purgatorio: Perhaps you would care to show us how it's done. Coldcreation (talk) 12:24, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
Never mind, I will be uploading a new version set on cartesian coordinates shortly. Coldcreation (talk) 14:15, 24 November 2018 (UTC)


Schematic diagram in cartesian coordinates of Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, showing the transformation from the original position (I. upper right), to the position chosen by Duchamp, rotated 90° (II. upper left). The origin about which Fountain rotates is at 0.0. Coldcreation (talk) 14:47, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
That second image illustrates the problem perfectly. If I ask someone to "imagine a urinal, rotated 90 degrees", I'd bet the last option they consider is tipping it backwards through the wall like it was punched by Agent Smith in that bathroom fight with Morpheus. (Here, the wall is the axis.) Very probably, they'd visualize a rotation from the default starting position either to the user's left or to the user's right, which is not the orientation we're trying to describe. "Oh, you mean tilted forward?" No, that leaves the object facing down, which isn't what we want to convey, either. There is no "simplicity, clarity, beauty, and elegance" in the "rotate 90 degrees" instruction. Heaping extra words of praise upon it doesn't really help its case, at least to me. At best, it is redundant with the plain verbal description "laid flat on its wall-plate". Geometrically, the most "elegant" description might be the "rotate 180 degrees about the diagonal axis" version, since that is the one which makes clear that applying the same transformation twice returns the object to its initial orientation. (Out of all the sources invoked so far, the one that might be the most "respectable" by superficial indications makes a geometrical claim that, as written, just can't be correct. Then the author builds a metaphor on top of that. The "rotate 180 degrees about the diagonal" version has the entertaining feature of demonstrating that a different choice of axis makes the basis for the metaphor true after all. So, both the mathematician and the art historian have reason to prefer the "180 degrees" statement.) XOR'easter (talk) 15:52, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
Your "tipping it backwards through the wall" illustrates precisely what User:Bus stop and I have repeating over and over again. There is no preferred frame of reference when observing a 3-dimensional work of art. And your "laid flat on its wall-plate" to replace 'rotated 90 degrees' doesn't cut it either. Not one reliable source mentions a "wall-plate" relative to Fountain, not to mention "laid flat". And those sources above that mention 180 degrees are not WP:RELIABLE, and none mention a diagonal axis. Coldcreation (talk) 16:13, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
The only people who require precise language are those without access to images or those who are vision-impaired. Perhaps a section should be created which specifies that its purpose is to communicate orientation of the object as an art object and orientation of the object as a bathroom fixture. Elsewhere in the article reference to orientation need be little more than "In Duchamp's presentation the urinal's orientation was altered from its usual positioning." Access to images makes precise language concerning orientation unnecessary. Bus stop (talk) 16:47, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
I was near to apologize once more, this time for not being clever enough for recognizing that in this here artistic environment it is about rotating specific plane oblique views of three dimensional objects within their plane by 90°, and not about rotating the objects themselves within their native 3D embedding. Perhaps some Escher-staircases should be included here. The facts that the starting pic has nothing to do with a frontal view, reminding of the object's use, and that the final pic does not reflect the orientation given in the pic of the article, are certainly fully negligible in this context. Up to now I thought it would suffice to get rid of the WP:OR(ubbish) about symmetry axes, and state that a rotation by 90° (with the appropriate sign) in planes(!) parallel to the symmetry plane of this object (There are just two planes, easily to identify in this object: the mentioned symmetry plane, and the, strangely disputed, plane of the wall-plate. Calling this WP:OR identifies 1 + 1 = 2 as such.) would end up in a position analogous to looking at the occiput of a bust, readymade to be walked around, and after 180° presenting the view of the article's photo, but now I just take the other pill, hiding me some time lapse from WP's reality. Purgy (talk) 17:16, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
And those sources above that mention 180 degrees are not WP:RELIABLE — Why not? Because they mention 180 degrees? (The Adcock source you insisted upon adding to the article was manifestly unreliable, as far as mathematics is concerned, since everything it does not copy out of an earlier popularization of mathematics is in error.) There is no preferred frame of reference when observing a 3-dimensional work of art. Untrue. Frames of reference in which the floor is horizontal are preferred in a very practical sense, for example. It would be more justified to say that there are no preferred axes around which to rotate a work of art, and consequently, the statement "Duchamp ... reoriented it 90 degrees", which includes no specification of the axis of rotation, is meaningless. XOR'easter (talk) 17:58, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

How is it possible that these people continue to believe that "tipping it backwards through the wall" completes the transformation? It doesn't. If you do it that way, you still have to rotate it 180 degrees (or, the same thing by relativity, walk around it) to get to the usual view. So the tipping part of it has saved you zero effort because the 180 degree rotation is still needed. Or, you could just do the 180 degree rotation in the correct axis to begin with. Alternatively, if you somehow believe that the walking around part should not be counted as a transformation (because reasons), then just put it down on the ground in its normal position and loom over it from behind and above, looking down on it. Voila! You now see the sculpture in its sculpture position with zero transformations. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:08, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

I was just about to say that if we really de-privilege our frames of reference and ignore the "usual view", we might as well say that the object was unchanged, because we could be staring down at it from a catwalk above the gallery, so that it looks just like a urinal mounted on a wall. XOR'easter (talk) 18:23, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
Yes, "we could be staring down at it from a catwalk above the gallery" but that display perspective is farfetched, whereas a 3/4 view is not at all farfetched. Bus stop (talk) 18:54, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
Well, maybe a little far-fetched. :-) XOR'easter (talk) 19:56, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
Getting to a 3/4 view would require yet a different rotation, one I'm too lazy to calculate right now. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:57, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
Don't bother because there is nothing special about a 3/4 view either. Bus stop (talk) 19:00, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
I might as well chime in. In my view of it there are two solutions. If you imagine the urinal facing towards the viewer in a "normal" configuration then it has to be turned 180 degrees around and then 90 degrees up to get to the artistic position. Or, more likely but surmising, the artist first saw the urinal exactly as it sits in the photograph, realized the artistic readymade potential in leaving it exactly like that as a signed piece, and went with it. The "it" of this art piece is its new orientation, which would confuse some portion of the brain for a microsecond. The artist would have recognized that when first seeing it - thus, art. Randy Kryn (talk) 19:09, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
We should simply say "In Duchamp's presentation the urinal's orientation was altered from its usual positioning." Bus stop (talk) 19:19, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
That position has the benefit of not being wrong. It is also consistent with your claim above that there is nothing special about any particular viewpoint, and inconsistent with the position of Coldcreation that we should blindly repeat the wrong claims of a 90 degree rotation from the sources that make those claims. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:38, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
I would be content with that phrasing. XOR'easter (talk) 19:51, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Not Coldcreation (talk) 20:40, 24 November 2018 (UTC)

Gabriel Nivasch (a coauthor of mine) made a brief video that may help clarify the 180 degree rotation explanation, to those without closed minds: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/photo/103502386102398205496/6627607475500849154David Eppstein (talk) 01:55, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
There really is no need to complicate the issue. As mentioned above, the same maneuver can be carried by pivoting the object 180° on its drain pipe (at 0.0). But a simple pivot on the same point can accomplish the task with a 90° maneuver. That solution is only interesting if one's goal it to keep the "front" of the object visible at all time: the "preferred reference frame" solution. Or if the goal is to continue spinning it back to it's 'normal' position (in 2 steps). The motion itself is arguably awkward, artificial (not natural). No need to turn it 180° when 90° will suffice. Also mentioned above, there exist an infinite number of axes (all parallel to the line connecting the urinals screw holes) that will accomplish the same task with a 90° rotation. I doubt anyone here had difficulty (before the video) visualizing the maneuver, and no need for the "closed minds" comment. Finally, the important thing to note (shortly to be included in the article) is not how one physically arrives at the position (on its base) but how the change in position contributes to the creation of an artwork; or, more precisely perhaps, the illusion of an artwork. Coldcreation (talk) 06:36, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
It is not more complicated. It is simpler, because it gets you from start to finish in a single motion of the object rather than requiring an extra step (turning the pedestal or whatever). If the start back plane and base plane are swapped from the end back plane and base plane, this is the only single rotation that takes one position to the other, regardless of where one is standing while watching it rotate. I don't know why you keep blathering on about 90 sufficing when it clearly doesn't. —David Eppstein (talk) 07:49, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
No one here is "closed minded" or "blathering" but you. There is no need for a 180° maneuver when a simpler 90° will suffice (with no extra step). The notion Fountain needs to face the viewer (as the 1917 Stieglitz photo), requiring an "extra step" is untenable. There is no preferred viewpoint. Purgy is correct; this is about rotating a specific plane of a 3-dimensional object by 90°. Regardless, it's not the motion that matters; it's what the new position offers as a response to artistic creation, and how that choice informs the observer. Coldcreation (talk) 08:33, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
I do not want to stand cited incompletely. I described the rotation, necessary to rotate a urinal from its position in standard use to the position as depicted in the article, by employing a 90° rotation in planes parallel to the obvious symmetry plane of the urinal, plus a 180° rotation in planes parallel to the floor. These two rotations may be combined to a unique single 180° rotation, as described several times already and depicted in a nice video. This one, single rotation may be decomposed in infinitely many ways to other rotations, but (for group-theoretical reasons) there is no single 90° rotation doing the same job. Since the cited source refers to the position of the urinal in use, the result of a 90° rotation, referred to in the source, cannot deliver the depicted position, at least not in the real world, maybe it does so in some artsy-fartsy imagination. Purgy (talk) 11:22, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
This whole idea of "artsy-fartsy" is as poorly defined as the notion of there being a proper frame of reference for a three-dimensional object. Bus stop (talk) 19:08, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────The 2-D photo is not a work of art. Nor does the photo represent the view from which the object should be seen. The work represented is 3-D and thus meant to be seen from any angle. There is no addition of (or "plus") a 180° rotation in planes parallel to the floor required. Coldcreation (talk) 11:37, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

Allow me to add my two cents to the discussion. "Euler's rotation theorem" states that if you take any object and perform any sequence of rotations to it, then there exists a unique axis such that having performed a single rotation to the original object around that axis would have had the same effect. Here is a nice interactive demonstration of this mathematical fact, using a rotating Earth: https://web.stanford.edu/~ajdunl2/so3/so3.html Hence, in light of Euler's rotation theorem, it makes sense to talk about *the* axis and *the* angle of a given rotation. Now, the usual way to look at a urinal is from the front, not from the back (i.e. from behind the bathroom wall). Similarly, the usual way to look at Duchamp's sculpture is also *not* from the back, as witnessed by all the Google image results of searching "Duchamp fountain". As we can see, 3D geometry is somewhat counter-intuitive. For example, in the above Earth example, if we asked someone to return the Earth to its original position by hand, I don't think anyone would do it in the way shown. Most people would do it in two steps: First placing the North pole up and the South pole down, and then rotating around the vertical axis. Similarly, if we asked people to turn the urinal to the desired position, then perhaps many people would do it in two steps, first rotating 180 degrees around one axis and then rotating 90 degrees around another axis. However, mathematically it makes more sense to talk about a single axis of rotation and a single angle of rotation. In that case, there is only one possibility: The axis must be diagonal and the angle must be 180 degrees. Since these slightly confusing solid-geometry facts are somewhat disconnected from most people's day-to-day lives, the best solution, which avoids being confusing and also avoids being mathematically incorrect, would be not to talk about any angle, but instead to say something like "turned so as to lie on its back side", or something like that. Gabriel Nivasch. Gabn1 (talk) 14:52, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I'm coming around to Coldcreation's point of view. The artwork is a transformed urinal which is now a signed sculpture named Fountain. As a sculpture it has no front or back side, but is complete as seen from any direction. If the angle compared to what it is - a new and unmounted urinal - must be mentioned, 90 degrees is getting warmer (duo meaning intended). Randy Kryn (talk) 15:16, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
Welcome Gabn1. The only desired position is laying flat on its wall-plate (on a pedestal). From a vertical position, there is one, and only one, step needed to place the urinal on its wall plate horizontally: a 90° rotation. That is neither confusing nor mathematically incorrect. (See this diagram). Coldcreation (talk) 15:32, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
The 2-D photo is not a work of art. That seems rather to insult the entire art of photography. Checking the caption: "Marcel Duchamp Fountain, 1917, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz" ... clicking the link for Alfred Stieglitz... "who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form." Huh. And since the original is lost, we ought to talk about the art we do have, oughtn't we? Nor does the photo represent the view from which the object should be seen. No, but it is the view from which the object is seen, while reading this article. Any description that implies a frontal view which is inconsistent with the photo is a poor integration of picture and text, and is apt to be confusing to any reader who pauses to think about it. We don't have the freedom to walk around the photograph. (In the distance, I hear the cries of all the graphic designers who were told by their clients, "Just flip it in Photoshop so we can see the back!") To make a deliberate pun of the matter: the photograph establishes a preferred frame.
If the angle compared to what it is - a new and unmounted urinal - must be mentioned — I am more and more convinced that it isn't necessary. Without specifying an axis of rotation, giving a number of degrees is incomplete. An attempt to complete the description (e.g., "so that it lies flat on its wall-plate") ends up making the number of degrees redundant. If we actually try to be good expositors and integrate picture with text (while also benefiting readers with poor vision), we might eschew the digits altogether. For example, "The artist brought the urinal to his studio at 33 West 67th Street, reoriented it from its originally intended position of use to lie flat on its wall-plate instead, and signed it "R. Mutt 1917". In the frontal view photographed by Alfred Stieglitz, the water inflow pipe of the urinal, which is normally vertical, instead faces the viewer." XOR'easter (talk) 17:26, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
The sculpture clearly has a favored front side (the one shown in the photo), as evidenced for instance by the fact that Steiglitz in setting up the photo felt free to place a painting as backdrop close behind it rather than showing the back side open for viewers to walk behind. And a urinal, also, clearly has a favored front side (the side you piss into). To get from one to the other can only be done by a 180 degree rotation. Alternatively, if you think the choice of which point is on top is artistically significant but the choice of which point to think of as the front is not, as Randy Kryn is arguing above, it is still incorrect to say that the rotation angle must have been 90 degrees, because it could be obtained by any of a family of rotations through different axes whose angles range from 90 to 180. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:38, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
180 degrees is no more precise than 90 degrees. By saying the object is reoriented 90 degrees we are providing a sighted reader with all they need to know. In fact it wouldn't even make much of a difference if the reorientation were actually 85 or 95 degrees. All we are doing here is providing a simple verbal notation which informs that Duchamp has presented the object not as it is usually seen. There is no favored frame of reference. It has a base that allows the viewer to walk around it; it is not a bas-relief. We are merely including in the article a simple verbal notation that the only "alteration" to the object is a reorientation. While that is something worth noting, it is also something entirely obvious to anyone looking at the object or looking at the photo of the object. Bus stop (talk) 18:47, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
90° of separation
On my first visit to the Louvre I happened to walk into a corridor which led to the "back side" of the Venus de Milo, so my first glimpse of the statue was from an angle not often seen in photographs. That side was as well-sculpted as the traditional "front", with no indication of which side the marble aligned originally before its transformation. Since, by definition, a sculpture is a three-dimensional work of art, the moment Duchamp aligned and signed Fountain he created something new. So discussing which way it was meant to face as a bathroom fixture is like backtracking to the time the Venus de Milo was a large piece of rock not yet hewn or distinguished (to stretch a point) or, in the case of Fountain, when a piece of shaped ceramic was picked up, hauled to a studio, and, with the help of imaginative human minds, forever changed contemporary art. Randy Kryn (talk) 19:02, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
If you both truly believe that this is a fuzzy-headed and imprecise way of describing it as being differently oriented, why not say that, instead of pretending at precision with the bogus 90 degree claim? —David Eppstein (talk) 19:18, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm actually just alluding to and arguing both sides (see image above). As discussed, sources apparently are conflicted as to degrees. So probably a written descriptor, as suggested above, rather than a precise mathematical measurement, may be the way to go. Coldcreation, is there a descriptor other than a degree enforcement that you'd agree to? Thanks. Randy Kryn (talk) 19:25, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
You are objecting to the wording "90 degrees" and I respect that and I think the reference to 90 degrees could be omitted. What I don't think you realize is that you have not presented an argument that the "180 degrees" reference should be included in the article. This is because there is no proper frame of reference for a three-dimensional object. Therefore I would be OK omitting all reference to a number of degrees. Bus stop (talk) 19:30, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────@XOR'easter: Your first point is the logical fallacy of appeal to probability: assuming all photographs must be artworks, since some are. Your argument lacks deductive validity since your premise is false. The second point is the proof by assertion fallacy: the Stieglitz view-point is the preferred reference frame is repeatedly restated regardless of contradiction. Your third point is a slippery slope argument: that the inclusion of "90°" is likely to result in unintended consequences, and to avoid such a catastrophe, should not be included in the article. Coldcreation (talk) 19:35, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

Some sculptures do have a natural "front" side even if others do not. Regarding this particular sculpture, you don't see in Google images anyone photographing it from the "back". Gabn1 (talk) 20:07, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

For Beatrice Wood, indeed, Fountain was not only the "Madonna of the Bathroom", but also comparable to "a Brancusi, with curved lines of genuine sensitivity", a formal logic perhaps informed by the fact that Fountain and a version of Princess X were both slated to appear at the 1917 New York Independents exhibition. But Fountain is also a "female object" according to another of Duchamp's randy quip. ([4])

I read recently about the beauty of all side of Fountain. I will search for that text. Meanwhile, the above describes the types of 3-D objects that are appealing, or at least should be seen, from all sides, like a madonna. Who would dream of not rotating around a female object? Edit: Beatrice Wood's text dates to 1917. Indeed, from its inception, Fountain was seen for what it was, and was to become. Coldcreation (talk) 20:43, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

Gabn1—but the concept of reorienting an object need not concern itself with front or back. The language being considered for inclusion in the article addresses the reorientation of the object. The language chosen need not concern itself with a preferred vantage point for viewing the object. Bus stop (talk) 20:47, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
@Coldcreation: None of the logical fallacies you list characterize my statements. Your remark that the Stieglitz photographs is "not a work of art" remains completely unsupported opinion on your part. In any event, whether or not Stieglitz committed an act of art is secondary to my point. You claim that I foresee a "catastrophe"; I have said nothing so dramatic, only that a good article for a multimedia encyclopedia should coordinate its media properly. I am simply trying to integrate photograph and text in the way that best benefits readers (including those who are not sighted). Even sources talking about the beauty of Fountain from all vantage points would not negate the fact that the vantage point we show is Stieglitz's photograph. The fact that the picture provides a vantage point, and thus establishes a frame of reference, would be equally true if the photograph were an anonymous work-for-hire by a forgotten wire-service reporter. Can we please leave the listing of irrelevant logical fallacies to the subreddits of angry teenagers, and get on with the work of building an encyclopedia? XOR'easter (talk) 23:20, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

This articles is and will continue to be based on reliable third-party published sources with a reputation for accuracy. The opinions of reliable authors are published, and not the opinions of Wikipedians who have read and interpreted (or misinterpreted) primary source material for themselves: Per WP:RS Coldcreation (talk) 23:34, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

Your opinion that the three reliably-published sources listed above for the 180-degree rotation explanation should be excluded and that only the sources you have found for the bogus 90-degree explanation should be included is unsupported by Wikipedia policy, and your claims that any positions contrary to yours are unsupported by sources have already been clearly falsified by those listings of sources above. In any case, mathematics is not a subject for opinions, and when sources state bogus pseudomathematics like the 4d-rotation theory you tried to push earlier, their reliability is cast into serious doubt. —David Eppstein (talk) 00:03, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
It is not the motion from position A to B that matters; it is what the novel position offers as a response to human creativity, how that choice informs the observer, and how its position, along with its title combine to place this artwork, with the Mona Lisa, Guernica, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (and others) as one of the most influential artworks of all time. Finally, what matters is how Fountain (with its novel position and title) along with other readymades, have made of Marcel Duchamp one of the most influential artists of all time. Coldcreation (talk) 06:39, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
If the motion doesn't matter, why do you want to keep an incorrect description of that motion in the article? —David Eppstein (talk) 06:54, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
My question exactly. XOR'easter (talk) 15:06, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

@Lisiate, David Eppstein, Coldcreation, Bus stop, XOR'easter, Randy Kryn, and Tamfang: Here is a simple diagram presenting how one can turn an urinal into the Fountain by 90° or 180° rotation (images in the upper and the lower row, respecively) with appropriate choice of the rotation axis (fat red lines).

Rotation of an urinal into the Fountain.png

Best regards, CiaPan (talk) 14:22, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

@Lisiate, David Eppstein, Coldcreation, Bus stop, XOR'easter, Randy Kryn, and Tamfang: One can possibly do it with any intermediate angle of rotation – the middle row of an updated image shows an example for 120°. --CiaPan (talk) 16:44, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
The diagram reproduced above, by CiaPan, and the diagram reproduced above, in cartesian coordinates showing the transformation of Fountain to the position chosen by Duchamp, rotated 90°, are proof that art historians have correctly indicated the position of the work (on its pedestal) relative to the standard upright functional position. The few sources for 180° failed to mention a diagonal axis (and are therefore unreliable: nothing to do with my opinion). Again, the most important concept moving forward is to explain in the article how the choice of that 'new' position along with its title and other factors have irreversibly and resoundingly changed the course of art history. Coldcreation (talk) 08:23, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
Saying "90 degrees" is, by itself, insufficient. If we're allowed to add to what the sources say when they say "90 degrees" in a manner that makes the result ultimately correct, why not do so when they say "180 degrees"? Moreover, if the most important concept moving forward is to explain the significance of choosing a new position, then why not simply describe the repositioning and the accompanying photograph in plain words, and then in the "Interpretations" section, go on to summarize the metaphors people have read into it about gender inversion and so forth? (I should say the conjectural repositioning, since all we have is a story to begin with, and it's entirely possible that Duchamp just saw it in the shop that way, because a guy at the iron works was afraid it would tip over if he stored it vertically, and Duchamp thought, "Hey, it looks different like that" — or, rather, Cela semble un peu nouvel! Choosing to take the unfamiliar and not make it ordinary is still a choice, after all.) XOR'easter (talk) 15:06, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

How position contributes to the artwork
[edit]


Fountain Descending a Staircase, No. 1, after Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, and Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, showing a 360° rotation of Duchamp's original 1917 Fountain. Coldcreation (talk) 05:07, 27 November 2018 (UTC)


Thank you! This IS great fun for me, especially, since you forgo specifying any axes, angles and (fix)points of rotation. I think it has even esthetic appeal, but I, on my side, forgo uttering any artistic valuation. Purgy (talk) 07:56, 28 November 2018 (UTC)
Fun image, but its choice of using only rotations through axes perpendicular to the viewplane shows that he is still mired in the Cartesian orthogonal worldview. (Or maybe it's just much easier to rotate images than 3d models.) —David Eppstein (talk) 16:31, 28 November 2018 (UTC)
Incorrect on the silly worldview comment. I am currently working on another version of Fountain embedded in a spherically symmetric general relativistic four-dimensional globally hyperbolic pseudo-Riemannian spacetime manifold with temporal evolution in accord with the laws of physics and multiple viewpoints generated by 3-D software. Coldcreation (talk) 15:42, 29 November 2018 (UTC)

Rudolf E. Kuenzli states, in Dada and Surrealist Film (1996), after describing how various readymades are presented or displayed: "This decontextualization of the object's functional place draws attention to the creation of its artistic meaning by the choice of the setting and positioning ascribed to the object." He goes on to explain the importance of naming the object (ascribing a title). At least three factors came into play: the choice of object, the title, and how it was modified, if at all, from its 'normal' position or location. By virtue of placing a urinal on a pedestal in an art exhibition, the illusion of an artwork was created. Rudolf E. Kuenzli, Dada and Surrealist Film, MIT Press, 1996, p. 47. Coldcreation (talk) 08:40, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

Ha! Much applause and am glad to see your Fountain Descending a Staircase, No. 1. If this has never been done before it deserves publication in some form. The entire discussion is worth the price of admission for this creation alone. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:08, 28 November 2018 (UTC)
I can't find, at least on Google, any other mention of Fountain Descending a Staircase, so if it's been done before (as a photo, painting, cartoon, even a mention) it's not showing up. Can others try to find a previous mention, thanks. We may have seen the birth of a unique artistic combination of related iconic images, and again, Coldcreation, nice work. Randy Kryn (talk) 16:27, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
But I think we are getting somewhere. The real question is: how does this relate to abstract expressionism? Bus stop (talk) 14:54, 4 December 2018 (UTC)