The toilet (or at least indoor plumbing) is quite possibly the most important invention in world history. It’s sure as hell in the Top 10. But few people would consider it art – that is, until 1917. That year, Marcel Duchamp debuted Fountain, an upside-down urinal he signed “R. Mutt”. Part of the Dada movement, it was originally banned from an art exhibition that previously proclaimed all works would be accepted, but has since then been replicated in dozens of museums.
Four more bits about toilets and bathrooms after the jump!
- The term “to spend a penny” is a euphemism for using the restroom in the UK, due to the fact that in the mid-20th Century, that was the fee for using a public bathroom.
- Some of the earliest, and most advanced, toilets came from the people of Indus Valley. In Mohenjo-Daro, around 2800 BCE, the toilets were outside their houses on their walls – however, most classes had simple pots in the ground.
- The word toilet comes from the French word toile, which was a cloth that kept men and ladies hidden when they were getting their hair coiffed.
- Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Crapper didn’t invent the toilet. Yup, it gets worse. He made the toilet popular (how was done that, I don’t want to know), and was involved in other toilet-related inventions, such as the ballcock. (Yes, now you can laugh.)