This event has now finished.
This event has been rescheduled, the new time and date is shown below.
  • Date and time: Wednesday 23 February 2022, 4.30pm to 6.30pm
  • Location: Online only
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

History of Art Research Seminar

Just days before the opening of the Society of Independent Artists first exhibition in New York in 1917, Marcel Duchamp was described in a magazine article as 'the Whistler of Cubism.' Unlike Whistler, Duchamp's behaviour as an artist was never debated in court but this talk will use that description of him as a prompt to reconsider the now infamous submission of a urinal to the Independents exhibition from the viewpoint of the legal problems it raised, in particular questions of obscenity and infringement of intellectual property rights.

Although these were addressed just weeks later in an editorial in the magazine The Blind Man titled 'The Richard Mutt Case,' they have remained remarkably little examined by both art historians and legal scholars. Meanwhile, the prevailing interpretation of the submission of the object solely as a test of the Society's understanding of what could be considered a work of art has perpetuated its status as a paradigm for the otherwise largely discredited Institutional Theory of Art, the dominance of which Michael will challenge by examining the extent to which law is an institution that defines art and controls expression.