This work plays with Duchamp’s notions of the ‘liquids that love is made of’. Here the three cold and hard white porcelain urinals oer to the viewer a denuded female vulva, with the clitoris sitting proudly under the hood. This exposure makes us imaginary voyeurs. As sexuality and eroticism for Duchamp were ‘the basis of everything and no-one talks about it’, the anthropomorphic female form of these three readymade
objects sits squarely within Duchamp’s predilection for eroticism and humour. Moreover, Duchamp had a penchant for the number three: where one and two stand for the duality of male and female, and ‘3 is the rest’.
The work and title reference the attributes – mirth, joy and beauty – of the Three Graces of Greek mythology (often painted by Lucas Cranach and admired by Duchamp) that reflect Duchamp’s enjoyment of pranks and punning in his preoccupation with the sexualized woman. Just as the Three Graces dance in a circle with arms linked, the beads linking the water inlets of the urinals suggest the ejaculations that travel along the capillary lines found in several of Duchamp’s works.
The urinal model chosen for this work is Armitage Shanks anthropomorphic Hygeniq, itself a pun that Duchamp may well have enjoyed. Aptly, Duchamp’s alter ego Rrose Sélavy (Eros c’est la vie) wrote on a ‘Question of intimate hygiene: Should you put the hilt of the sword in the pelt of the girl’? The question from this sculpture is, will you?Return to exhibits