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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 20:46 GMT
Should urinal have topped modern art poll?
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain
An autographed gentleman's urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, which shocked the art world in 1917, came top of a poll of 500 art experts. The conceptual sculpture has inspired a range of artist including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

The white porcelain urinal beat Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) into second place with Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych (1962) coming third.

Do you think the Fountain is an influential work of modern art? Do you agree with the experts? Which piece would you have voted for?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

It's a urinal. If true artists like Leonardo Da Vinci saw this they would turn in their graves.
Phillip Evans, UK, Wales

How the Hell can something that I wee in be considered art? Surely there are better and more intelligent ways of making art more accessible.
Aaron David Hall, Worcester, England

These artists are taking the proverbial, surely!
Josh Chapman, Ammanford, Carmarthenshire

This is a travesty, pure and simple
John, Woodstock, USA

This is a travesty, pure and simple. A disgrace to art in general, brilliant though it is.
John, Woodstock, USA

This is ludicrous! I mean what ISN'T art these days? These days you can stick your name on anything and call it art. I see no beauty in a sculptured toilet.
Maya McKee, Southampton, UK

Finally - a piece of modern art to receive my opinion of it.
Graham, London, UK

Another fine example of the degradation of society. The urinal company should get the credit for this.
Pat Connolly, Santa Clara, US

It is not the urinal that is important here folks, it is the idea and the challenge to conventional thinking
A S Wretham, Powell River, Canada
A wonderful choice! It is not the urinal that is important here folks, it is the idea and the challenge to conventional thinking. Without the urinal, Picasso and Warhol and many others would have had a much tougher time getting their art accepted.
A S Wretham, Powell River, Canada

If 500 people really consider this the most influential modern art work of all time, I think we can safely disregard their claim to be experts.
David Anderson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

I guess I just don't understand the difference between "influential art" and shock value.
Paul, Toronto, Canada

Now we can all be artists
Jim , NJ, USA
Picasso had talent and spent many years perfecting his craft. He worked hard. If the art world were still influenced by people like him, then someone might be told they can't be an artist because they are talentless and lazy. Imagine that. So of course the guy who decided that art takes zero talent and work was more influential. Now we can all be artists. I create art all the time without even trying and I feel great about that. Sure, now we have to look at garbage and pretend that it moves us or risk seeming "shallow"; but why should art be special anyway?
Jim , NJ, USA

Having read the negative comments of the others here, I can only add you're all a bunch of philistines! Go and read up on Marcel Duchamp and his reaction to the bourgeoisie who put so much store in 'traditional' forms of art. Then you might understand where he is coming from, and what this is all about before wasting your breath commenting on it.
Dave Wynn, Cardiff, Wales

The next time I see someone lingering around the men's toilets, I'll know its not a nut but it is in fact Dave Wynn from Cardiff marvelling at the fine art on display!
Ian, London

Obviously, the right questions still flow from the piece
J. Amoss, Athens, Georgia, USA
As an artist, I think Duchamp's piece is a checkmate on the art world. Brilliant move and is still a resounding challenge to everyone. To me, it is like a well-positioned mirror that breaks down my preconceptions. I don't care who made it: artist, craftsman, designer, critic- it is a thing in itself. Obviously, the right questions still flow from the piece.
J. Amoss, Athens, Georgia, USA

It's simply the emperor's new clothes. Still, these "luvvies" seem to make a good living out of this tat, so hat off to them. I just hope they're not doing it with any public (ie MY!) money.
Ron Levy, Rayleigh, UK

Well if after 80 years Tracey Emin can do exactly the same thing and not get laughed out of town then it obviously has had a lasting impact at the least. I'm sure a lot of people hate the idea that it has been voted "most influential" compared to Picasso and Warhol and a number of other artists. I wouldn't have voted for it. Influential doesn't mean "best". However it is the starting point of conceptual art. I would have put it around number 3.
Craig, London -ex New Zealand-

I don't doubt that the urinal is artistic but the real praise should rest with its original designer, not Duchamp. What artistic value did he add by merely signing it? Engineers who design artistic things deserve more recognition than is the case here.
Andrew, Bath, Somerset

This poll was for the most influential piece, not the people's choice
Wendy, UK
The key word here is 'influential'. Duchamp - the father of conceptual art (pretty impressive in 1917) - drastically altered the route of art and this was his seminal piece. Fundamentally, this poll was for the most influential piece, not the people's choice.
Wendy, UK

No is the simple answer. It isn't "modern art". It belongs in the last century with all that was produced by intellectual adolescents in the shock and entertainment business that is now so boring. Put it in the history books with Hirst and Emin and understand what art is again.
Geoff, Bath, UK

Fountain is undeniably a very important work of art, but Duchamp would probably be horrified by this turn of events and our attitude to Fountain in general. It's the most misunderstood piece of art ever presented to the public; everyone 'gets it', but nobody understands.
Hagbard Celine, UK

How can I register as an artist? I just dropped a sandwich on the floor next to my desk and it perfectly demonstrates the futility of the rat race and juxtaposed the reality and the imagined. Truly challenges what art "can and cannot be". Pretentious idiots!
Pete, Cambridge, England

I am not surprised to hear that a urinal is the most influential modern art of all time. It has inspired genius works like an unmade bed, bag of rubbish and other pieces of art. Duchamp was a genius and I am glad to see he is recognised for it
James N, Kirkham, Lancs

These people go their own elitist distaining way, society goes another.
Christian T, Reading UK

I assume these are the same experts that think half a cow, unmade beds and videos of houses falling over are also art? Enough said
John Alexander, Watford, UK

I'd agree wholeheartedly! Fountain is one of the most important works of art ever produced - completely breaking down the perception of what art can and cannot be.
Jamie, Reading, UK

I think it's just insulting to the other artists
Steve Wilson, Nottingham, England
It certainly is original, but when compared against all the other art works out there that took plenty more time and work, I think it's just insulting to the other artists.
Steve Wilson, Nottingham, England

Marcel Duchamp's sarcastic comment on modern art was spot-on. Talentless individuals noticed that at once that there were fools a-plenty to take such statements seriously. Many modern "artists" have subsequently become rich and famous by selling rubbish to such fools.
John, U.K.

Of course 'the fountain' is an influential work of art, if you know anything about art you will know that Duchamp's 'ready made' series has been a serious influence on design in general and therefore contemporary society's perception of information and language. However most won't understand that reality, because the visual language used to build this concept by the artist is far too "complex" for most to appreciate or bother to understand.
Mark Jackson, Liverpool, Merseyside

Pitiful. It tells you everything you need to know about 'modern' art, where the conception is more important than the end product. Tracy Emin would be back where she belonged, working at a Fish and Chip shop in Margate, if modern art hadn't veered off the rails of creativeness and down the embankment of creative process.
Russell Long, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Yes, it's influential in so far as it has influenced others to fob off worthless tat as modern art
Phil, Farnborough, UK
Yes, it's influential in so far as it has influenced others to fob off worthless tat as modern art, but it's not art because anyone can do it. It has achieved prominence not by its beauty, excellence or any other redeeming feature, but purely by virtue of being done by Duchamp. This poll finally proves the phrase 'modern art' is only 50% accurate.
Phil, Farnborough, UK

The lunatics are in charge of the asylum!
Bill White, Airdrie, Scotland

This is not art, the artist didn't create it the manufacturer did, maybe they should get the award.
K Black, UK



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