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For Centennial of Duchamp’s “Fountain,” Some Museums Will Offer Free Admission with a Password

Dropping the right name could get you into a museum for free on Sunday, April 9.

Marcel Duchamp, "Fountain," (1950 version of 1917 original), Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition, gift (by exchange) of Mrs. Herbert Cameron Morris, 1998 (© Artists Rights Society, ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp)
Marcel Duchamp, “Fountain,” (1950 version of 1917 original), Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition, gift (by exchange) of Mrs. Herbert Cameron Morris, 1998 (© Artists Rights Society, ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp)

On Sunday, select museums around the world will observe an important art world anniversary: the centennial of the day when the First Annual Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists opened in New York City without a curious sculpture by one R. Mutt titled “Fountain.” The now-iconic sculpture, which had actually been submitted for inclusion in the supposedly non-juried exhibition by Marcel Duchamp, would go on to become arguably the most famous work of Modern Art.

"The Blind Man" (No. 1), Edited by Marcel Duchamp, Henri-Pierre Roché, and Beatrice Wood, April 10, 1917
“The Blind Man” (No. 1), Edited by Marcel Duchamp, Henri-Pierre Roché, and Beatrice Wood, April 10, 1917

In honor of the infamous 1917 rejection, several major art museums — including, according to the Art Newspaper, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home to the world’s largest Duchamp collection), the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and (assuming it reopens between now and then) the Centre Pompidou in Paris — will offer free admission to visitors who, between 3pm and 4pm on Sunday, April 9, say the name “Richard Mutt” when obtaining their ticket. As an added bonus the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which recently opened a special exhibition about the “Fountain” scandal, will host a performance in which members of the Pig Iron Theatre Company reinterpret its most dramatic moments “in a special location.”

The whole international museum initiative was the brainchild of art historian and Duchamp scholar Thomas Grist. Though New York’s Museum of Modern Art is listed as a participating institution by the Art Newspaper, the museum assured Hyperallergic that it will not partake of the Duchampian shenanigans.

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