The Makapan Pebble – Predecessor Of Duchamp’s Urinal? – Art News Roundup

From the very first ‘found art’ – The Makapan Pebble to Random International’s latest production. Read on to catch up with the art news this week!


There’s always something going on in the art world. Every Sunday, Agora starts the new week by looking back at what happened the week before. Here are our top art news stories from September 25th – October 1st, 2016.

makapan pebble
Source: The Art Newspaper

The Makapan Pebble – Predecessor Of Duchamp’s Urinal

Almost about three million years ago, this stone, naturally in the shape of a human head, was discovered by an early ape-like human species somewhere in present-time Africa. The Makapan Pebble could be the very first readymade work of art in relation to Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal from 1917. The British Museum, London has announced its decision, after much debate, to display it as the first ever ‘found art’ in an upcoming show. The exhibition titled, South Africa: The Art Of A Nation, opens on the 27th of October and runs through 26 February 2017.  Full Story Here →

The Inside Job At Versailles

Anish Kapoor’s already controversial sculpture titled Dirty Corner at the Palace Of Versailles repeatedly in 2015. The sculpture was targeted due to its sexual connotations directed towards “the queen who took power”. In a recent interview with the South China Morning Post, Kapoor claims that the vandalism was actually an ‘inside job’. “I’d made three reports to the police and to this day have had no response from them,” he said. “The councilor managed to get a court hearing within hours. I’ll say it again—it was an inside job.” Full Story Here →

The Makapan Pebble
Source: Artsy

Random International’s Latest Production

The famous Rain Room creators unveiled their latest work of art earlier this week. An interactive installation of robotic sculptures titled Fifteen Points, it is now on view at Pace Gallery, New York. The installation feature fifteen robotic limb-like structures topped with LED lights. All the components are synchronized together to create the image of a human body gliding through space. “There’s something very healthy about going back to the basics, to vibration,” said Random International co-founder Hannes Koch. Full Story Here →

Forgotten Masterpiece Found

Antique Roadshow, BBC’s television program that features experts examining the possessions of local and sometimes clueless antique owners, has made a fine discovery. While filming in Harrogate, England the team has found a long lost work of art by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, one of the most important painters from the Victorian period. Rupert Maas, one of the experts on the show said that this was the “best picture we have ever seen on the Roadshow in its entire history”. The painting is a portrait of the artist’s friend and colleague, the etcher Leopold Löwenstam and is valued at over $300,000. Full Story Here →

The Makapan Pebble
Source: The Art Newspaper

Thumbs Up In Trafalgar Square

On 29th September, this week, David Shrigley’s new public art sculpture was unveiled in the heart of London. The seven-metre-high sculpture titled Really Good, depicts an unusually extended thumb and is placed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. It is the 11th sculpture commissioned for the Fourth Plinth and is cast in bronze with the same dark patina as the other classic statues in the square. The sculpture remains on view until 28th March, next year. Full Story Here →

The Makapan Pebble

Exhibitions At Agora Gallery

Three inspiring exhibitions – Ardian Tragaj/ a Solo exhibition, Interpretive Realms and Masters of the Imagination: The Latin American Fine Art Exhibition, are currently on view at Agora Gallery until the 11th of October. View the entire collection of reception photographs here

These are just some of the many news stories that caught our eye this past week. For more stories as-they-happen, be sure to also follow our Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for our newsletter for news about Agora Gallery, our exhibitions, and our artists!


  • Dear Agora Gallery. The answer to the question ‘Is the Makapan Pebble the Predecessor of Duchamp’s Readymade?’ is an emphatic ‘No,’ since the concept and definition of the genre known as the ’readymade’ were first formulated by Marcel Duchamp just before 15 January 1916. The proof can be inspected by any reader caring to access the letter in which this information was conveyed to Duchamp’s sister Suzanne in Paris, and no ne else, which now resides in the Jean Crotti Papers held in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution. There they will learn that the very first example of a ready-made was not a stone of many faces but a snow shovel inscribed with Duchamp’s signature and the legend – in English – ‘In Advance of the Broken Arm,’
    As with all but one of the ready-mades that Duchamp designated between that date and the summer of 1918, when he left New York for Buenos Aires, the snow shovel was subsequently ‘lost.’
    A further reason why the pebble can neither have been nor is a ready-made is found in that same letter, for here Duchamp describes what a ready-made was, and still is – an object that he bought, signed with his name and appended with a legend, in English: and that’s it – no elevation of an everyday object to the status of art, I’m afraid. Duchamp also made it crystal clear to his sister that the ready-made had nothing whatsoever to do with art, which meant then, as it means now, that interrogating one on the assumption that it is or was a work of art is a complete waste of time.
    Duchamp never discussed this matter thereafter, and the contents of the letter only entered the public domain in 1982, some fifty years after Andre Breton, in ‘Phare de la Mariée,’ had published in the Winter 1935/36 edition of Le Minotaur, the definition that he, not Duchamp, invented that subsequently entered the master narrative. This – ‘a manufactured object elevated to the dignity of an object of art by the choice of the artist’ – is the complete opposite of Duchamp’s, and, since in 1916, Breton’s definition did not exist, Duchamp’s ready-mades could not possibly have subscribed to it, and neither did they.
    That this discrepancy has serious implications for the history of art of the second half of the twentieth century, and beyond, has not visibly troubled the ‘art world,’ which choses to ignore it. The implications for the authorship of the urinal submitted to the Society of Independent Artist in April 1917 are even more problematic, but space limits any further consideration of that knotty little problem here.

    • Dear Glyn,
      Thank you for taking the time to put all this information down for our readers!

      We do agree with you, and so does Artnet (the original source). It could not be a readymade because of the lack of an artistic interference.

      • Well thanks for the thanks, and glad to be of service, but with respect, you seem to have maybe missed the point: Duchamp’s concept of the ‘readymade’ according to which he, in 1916 – not Breton in 1935 – defined the readymades that he designated between 1916 and 1918 had no place for ‘artistic inferences,’ as you put it – or have I misread you: you seem to be giving the impression that your understanding of the readymade was that it did indeed have such ‘inferences,’ which Duchamp made abundantly clear, it didn’t, since the concept was of a genre that had nothing whatsoever to do with art. The confusion was caused by Breton, who in 1935 gratuitously reversed the definition by Duchamp from which he fallaciously drew endorsement for the travesty that then entered the master narrative as ” a manufactured object promoted to the dignity of an art object by the artist’s choice .” Duchamp’s definition was unknown until 1982, by which time the damage had been done. Sorry to be pedantic, but the difference matters.
        Perhaps you might be so kind as to communicate this Artnet?

        Regards. Glyn

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *