Morton Livingston Schamberg, American, 1881 - 1918, and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, German, 1874 - 1927.

c. 1917

Wood miter box; cast iron plumbing trap

Height: 12 3/8 inches (31.4 cm) Base: 3 x 4 3/4 x 11 5/8 inches (7.6 x 12.1 x 29.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Modern Art

* Gallery 186, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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In 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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