Who is R. Mutt? is a “readymade” alternate reality mystery game, a collaborative art project, a crowd-sourced art history archive, a collaborative online collage, and a social movement concerning the true identity of the creator of La Fontaine, considered by many art historians to be the most influential artwork of the 20th Century.
The art history canon tells us that in 1917, French-born artist Marcel Duchamp, then living in New York, submitted a urinal turned on its side and signed “R.Mutt” as a piece of sculpture to the Armory Show for exhibition; this work was, in spite of the show being open to all artworks, rejected by the Board of Independent Artists because it was not “art.” This caused an uproar among members of the Dada movement, and prompted Duchamp himself, who himself was a member of the Board, to resign. The first public exhibition of the piece took place shortly after this at 291, the New York gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, who took its now infamous photo. In the photo, the Armory submission tag still hangs from the piece. Since this time, the creation of Fontaine has been attributed to Marcel Duchamp, and is credited with launching the avant garde, the Dada movement and the advent of conceptual art. Duchamp subsequently reproduced the piece several times in a number of different forms, and it went on to develop its stature as the influence for several movements and generations of artists, and the primordial work of conceptual art.
There is only one problem with this story. It’s not true.
Help us find out the identity of the real artist of Fontaine and restore R.Mutt’s rightful place in history.