Although Duchamp had collected manufactured objects in his studio in Paris, it was not until he came to New York that he identified them as a category of art, giving the English name "Readymade" to any object purchased "as a sculpture already made." When he modified these objects, for example by mounting a bicycle wheel on a kitchen stool, he called them "Assisted Readymades." Duchamp later recalled that the original Bicycle Wheel was created as a "distraction": "I enjoyed looking at it, just as I enjoy looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace."
The artist is a not great creator—Duchamp went shopping at a plumbing store. The artwork is not a special object—it was mass-produced in a factory. The experience of art is not exciting and ennobling—at best it is puzzling and mostly leaves one with a sense of distaste. But over and above that, Duchamp did not select just any ready-made object to display. In selecting the urinal, his message was clear: Art is something you piss on.