Letter: Relief at last

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Sir: Knowing your passion for truth and accuracy, may I point out the error in last week's "Who? What? Where?" competition answers (Independent Magazine, 31 July)?

To the question of where Duchamp's urinal was first exhibited, the stated answer was the first exhibition of the Society of Independent Painters (sic: should be Independent Artists) in New York in 1917.

As is well known, the urinal was rejected from the supposedly jury-free exhibition when Duchamp submitted it under the pseudonym "R Mutt". Despite the organisers' embarrassment when they discovered the true identitiy of the "artist", there is no evidence that the work was subsequently included in the exhibition.

The month after the exhibition opened, an article on "The Richard Mutt Case" written by Duchamp and others for the short-lived magazine The Blind Man claimed that the urinal "disappeared and never was exhibited".

However, as I mentioned in my competition entry, Francis Naumann in his comprehensive New York Dada 1915-23 (p.184) has documentary evidence that nine days after the exhibition opened, the urinal was on display at Alfred Stieglitz's gallery. That is presumably the correct answer to your question.

As so often with conceptual art, arguments about Duchamp's work are so much more interesting than the works themselves.

Now then, what about my bottle of champagne?


Liss, Hampshire