"Fountain" (urinal)
Marcel Duchamp, 1917

"The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (shark preserved in formaldehyde)
Damien Hirst, 1991

Is This Art?

Marcel Duchamp, one of the most important artists of the 20th century, stunned the art world in 1917 by displaying an upended urinal as a sculpture. This was considered a landmark event, which began the movement of using an ordinary object and elevating it to a work of art.

Damien Hirst, born in 1965, is Britain’s richest living artist. He is famous for his works of art in which dead animals are preserved in formaldehyde. The above pictured dead shark suspended in formaldehyde sold in 1991 for a reported $8 million dollars.

Does taking an object out of context and displaying it elsewhere make us see it differently? Are the curving lines and the smooth porcelain of the urinal beautiful? But what can we say about the shark? Is this art? What do you think?

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