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Saturday, March 28, 2009

If It Has Function, Can It Be Art?


Some art theorists insist that art is made to be seen, not used. Essayist Siri Hustvedt is one of these. In her Mysteries of the Rectangle, she says that art "has not practical function beyond visual communication between the product the artist created and the viewer.”


I don't know what Hustvedt thinks about Fountain, but even if she agrees with me that Duchamp's urinal is not art, I suspect our reasoning might not be the same ... I disagree that functional things can't qualify as art.


Take Clark Sorensen’s urinals, for example.
Titled Nature Calls, his series of one-of-a-kind, hand-made porcelain fixtures was inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe’s large-scale flower paintings.


Like Duchamp’s Dadaist Fountain, Sorensen’s Nature Calls urinals are also intended to be humorous and ironic. But unlike Duchamp, Soensen has created something original and unique, elevating the mundane into the realm of artistic expression.

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