In a 1953 recorded conversation with Harriet, Carroll, and Sidney Janis that was never published, Marcel Duchamp gave his earliest and most detailed description of the origin and submission of the readymade Fountain to the first exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. In addition to featuring several notable revelations about the Fountain episode, the interview is also remarkable for the light it sheds on another nearly contemporary account of the story of Fountain, published in 1956 in the book Modern Art USA by the art and music historian Rudi Blesh. Passionate advocates for Ragtime and the Dixieland jazz revival, Blesh and Harriet Janis were frequent writing partners, publishing several music and art books, and together founded a record label to record traditional jazz artists. Through Harriet and Sidney Janis's extensive artworld connections, Blesh became a close associate of Duchamp, whose impact on Blesh's formulation of Modern Art USA has not been given adequate consideration by scholars. This article presents an analysis of both the Janis and Blesh accounts of Fountain, which together comprise the most comprehensive narrative description of this iconic work of art from Duchamp's perspective.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.