Robert J. Coady’s The Soil and Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain: Taste, Nationalism, Capitalism, and New York Dada

Menno Hubregtse


This article discusses how Marcel Duchamp may have selected Fountain as a readymade because it satirizes Robert J. Coady’s call for an indigenous American art. Coady saw America’s burgeoning industrial environment as a source for American Art, and he espoused his nationalistic agenda in his publication The Soil. Fountain, a porcelain urinal submitted to the Independents Exhibition in April 1917, appears to mock Coady’s celebration of industrial objects as true American art forms. Similarly, articles in The Blind Man, a publication edited by edited by Duchamp, Henri-Pierre Roché, and Beatrice Wood, parody Coady’s patriotic statements printed in The Soil. This article also examines why Coady was not part of New York Dada. He has been erroneously paired with New York Dada because of his outspoken criticism of modern art in America. His viewpoints, however, contrast with key characteristics of Dada: rebelling against capitalism, patriotism, and the established “art” institutions and traditions.


Dadism; Marcel Duchamp; Robert J. Coady; The Soil; Fountain; The Blind Man; Coady Gallery; Washington Square Gallery; New York Dada; Readymades; Independents Exhibition 1917

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