The event is a collaboration between Hull-based bathroom manufacturer Ideal Standard and the Hull School of Art and Design. As well as being Hull’s year as the country’s cultural capital, 2017 also marks two other important landmarks – the 200th anniversary of Ideal Standard brand Armitage Shanks, and the anniversary of notorious French artist Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Readymade’ sculpture – which famously presented an upturned urinal as a piece of art in 1917.
To mark the three colliding occasions, Armitage Shanks is staging the ‘Fountain 17’ project, which sees the company collaborating with students from Hull’s School of Art and Design to create new takes on Duchamp’s famous creation. The exhibition features 45 urinal-inspired pieces of art, including sculpture, painting, performance, and lm.
As well as students, those contributing work include Turner Prize winning collective Assemble, renowned author and poet Lemn Sissay MBE, award- winning designer Ben Kelly, Hull School of Art and Design alumnus sculptor Neville Gabie, and artists Anna Bean, Andy Dakin and Adele Howitt.
The Fountain17 exhibition runs until 14 May at Hull’s Kingston Art Gallery, Eleven, Humber Street Gallery and Brodrick Gallery, before moving to London as part of Clerkenwell Design Week, and then on to the Gladstone Museum in Stoke as part of its biennial celebrations. The artworks are then set to be auctioned for charity.
Duchamp’s iconic masterpiece, Fountain, is the inspiration behind Fountain17, featuring work that takes its cue from the urinal, which the artist turned on its back and signed ‘R. Mutt 1917’. In April 1917, Duchamp submitted his ‘Readymade’ Fountain to the Society of Independent Artists’ first exhibition in New York. The exhibit was rejected, an action which arguably redirected the trajectory of 20th century art, igniting a debate about what constitutes art which still rages today. In 2004, 500 elected art professionals voted Fountain the most influential artwork of the 20th century.