Modern and Contemporary Art
Morton Livingston Schamberg, American, 1881 - 1918, and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, German, 1874 - 1927.
Wood miter box; cast iron plumbing trap
1950-134-182The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950
LabelIn 1900 American writer Henry Adams contrasted the dynamo engine to the Virgin Mary as the icon of a new age, and in 1930 American poet Hart Crane would salute the Brooklyn Bridge as the altar of a new God. Consisting of an inverted household plumbing trap mounted on a wooden miter box, this construction offers a more tongue-in-cheek eulogy to the machine. Members of the New York Dadaists, Morton Schamberg and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven used irony and irreverence to topple artistic conventions. God shares a spiritual kinship with Marcel Duchamp’s notorious Fountain of 1917, a porcelain urinal turned on its side, and invokes Duchamp’s equivocal praise of plumbing and bridges as America’s greatest contributions to civilization.
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