April 4, 2018 getLISBON 0Comment

In regard of the emblematic work of the Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, currently on display in Lisbon, we take the opportunity to tell you about a very peculiar urban piece of furniture, the public urinals. Perhaps you’ve already stumbled across the ones that still remain and never really paid attention to them.

Public Urinals of Lisbon

The public urinals were invented by the French in the 19th century and exported to all of Europe and America, being still present in cities such as Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin. Lisbon also imported this invention and we could find them in many corners and squares of the city. This is witnessed by old photos that reveal to us, in addition to its existence, a great diversity of models.

Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa, s.a., s.d., PT-AMLSB-CMLSBAH-PCSP-004-SEX-000456

This iron-built equipment had, in most cases, interesting artistic details. They usually consisted of a suspended, decorated plate, sometimes covered with roofs or domes similar to kiosks.

Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa, Paulo Guedes (1886-1947), s.d., PT-AMLSB-CMLSBAH-PCSP-004-PAG-000131

Over time, public urinals have fallen into disuse. New and more comfortable, hygienic, private and suitable for women sanitary equipment, replaced this urban piece of furniture.

In the city of Lisbon, we believe that there are only three left. If you know of any more do not hesitate in contributing with your testimony.

With quite different typologies the first and the most famous one in Rua do Chão da Feira in São Jorge Castle’s entrance, it has a plaque cut out with the figure of a boy peeing that reminds us of Manneken Pis of Brussels.

We are left with two lesser-known ones, both in the east zone of Lisbon, one covered, in Poço Bispo and the other, less visible and in a worse state, in Viscondessa dos Olivais Square.

Public urinal in São Jorge Castle’s entrance.

Public urinal in São Jorge Castle’s entrance.

Public urinal in São Jorge Castle’s entrance.

Urinol Público no Poço do Bispo.

Public urinal in Poço do Bispo.

Public urinal in Poço do Bispo.

Public urinal in Viscondessa dos Olivais Square.

Public urinal in Viscondessa dos Olivais Square.

Public urinal in Viscondessa dos Olivais Square.

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If you stumble across one of these places, don’t miss the chance to observe these curious and unique exemplars. If they can’t be considered works of art, they are, without a doubt, true museum pieces, testimonies of an era and a culture.

We suggest you also read about The Art and Design of the WC Kiosks of Lisbon.

The Fountain of Duchamp in Lisbon

Ah, and don’t forget how this article began!

In the Museu Coleção Berardo in the Centro Cultural de Belém the exhibition ‘No Place Like Home’ is open to the public, which results from the international collaboration between the cities of Jerusalem and Lisbon.

The exhibition aims to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Dada movement and the 101st anniversary of the iconic Duchamp Fountain, the famous porcelain urinal that turned over the purpose of the object and forced us to rethink the concept of art.

There are over 100 objects displayed from the Israel Museum, Museu Coleção Berardo, Ellipse Collection (Holma/Ellipse) and also from private collections, galleries and artists from all over the world.

The exhibition highlights the gathering of works by artists of different generations and movements. You can see works by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Mona Hatoum, Alina Szapocznikow, among others.

To see until June 3rd!

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