“The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges.” – Marcel Duchamp (1917)
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the colorful, clunky metal shapes decorating farm land in Camarillo, California. These forms also appear in basements, maintenance yards, and water treatment plants that no one notices. From Southern Cali to the bowels of turn-of-the-century skyscrapers in NYC, you can find the most elegant, gentle curves serving man’s plumbing needs. Pretty basic stuff. But they are both sculptural and beautiful.
Perhaps the most famous plumbing fixture in history appeared on the American fine art scene in 1917 – when French conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp submitted a “readymade” porcelain urinal titled, “Fountain” to an exhibition that would ultimately reject the work. (Pic #2)
Duchamp dismissed the assumption that art must be linked to the “craft of the hand” and instead argued that a work of art should be primarily about the artist’s idea — a contention that became one of the most far-reaching principles of 20th century art.
To me, there is real beauty in these utilitarian objects. Check out the ones we’ve collected below. Heck, I even like the sound of the names assigned these sweet supplies, like: backflow preventers, hose bibs, swivel joints, valve actuators, flush valves, and discharge lines. TMI ?