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Print - Idiot Fountain VII

Idiot Fountain VII

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    UK (made)

  • Date:

    2009 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    McDevitt, Paul, born 1972 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case MP, shelf 68

Paul McDevitt (born 1972) is a painter and maker of mixed media works. His work is characterised by sampling and by collage effects. The Idiot Fountain etchings are his first prints, made in 2009 with Atelje Ole Larsen, in Helsingborg, Sweden. These etchings reflect his willingness to experiment with gesture and technique, to try out different styles and effects, and to break the rules. For example, he wanted to achieve a 'washed out' background effect, and having accidentally spilled Coke on one of his plates he found that this worked better to mask the ground when washing off with turpentine than did conventional masking fluid.

The Idiot Fountain prints have elements of the grotesque and of cartoons and caricatures, in part because McDevitt associates printmaking with the tradition of satire and caricature (in the mannner of Hogarth, Rowlandson, Gillray etc).

The prints were made in pairs which echo one another; each pair shows the same basic image but represented through two very different graphic styles, one traditionally figurative and referencing 18th/19thcentury caricatures, and also engraved ornament (especially the 'grotesque' style), and the other purely abstract and in a very specific style based on that of the German abstract painter Willi Baumeister (1888-1955). McDevitt discovered Baumeister whilst he was living in Germany and considers him to be "something of an unsung hero of European Modernism." He has said "I was drawn to his abstract works initially because they are as densely packed with information as most of the drawings I've made. It's an anachronistic style of working and that seemed again to fit with the medium of etching, which for me is somehow mostly associated with the first half of the 20th century. With the abstract etchings the line is not pretending to be something else - a figure or water. Rather than building up the illusion of an image it's somehow being more true to the manner in which it is constructed. There are no special effects - the image is just built up of line and you can clearly see each one."

Physical description

Black and white image of fountain with water cascading from the open mouths of a two-faced duck figure (reminiscent of the cartoon character Donald Duck). The duck head is supported on a pillar in the form of a fish, with water from the fish's mouth filling the basin of the fountain.

Place of Origin

UK (made)


2009 (made)


McDevitt, Paul, born 1972 (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Paul McDevitt 09
Signature and date; in pencil


Height: 25 cm, Width: 20 cm

Descriptive line

Paul McDevitt: Etching from the Idiot Fountain series. 2009

Subjects depicted

Fish; Duck; Water; Fountain; Caricature


Prints; Printmaking techniques


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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