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original - influence - work of art

Ready-Made (1917) - Marcel Duchamp
In 2004, this porcelain urinal was named the world's most influential piece of modern art in a survey of 500 artists, curators, critics and dealers. (source: Guardian)


  • Of, relating to, containing, or conveying semen or seed.
  • Of, relating to, or having the power to originate; creative.
  • Highly influential in an original way; constituting or providing a basis for further development: a seminal idea in the creation of a new theory. --American Heritage Dictionary

    Seminal work

    A seminal work [semen = seed (from the Latin seminalis)] is a work from which other works come--it is an engendering work which is so important in its ideas or technique that other people take these up and create new works too.

    For example, Darwin's 1859 Origin of Species is a seminal work. Applications of evolutionary theory in art, literature, anthropology, and many other fields began to multiply after 1859 and continue to do so today. So this book was seminal.

    A seminal work is related to, but should not be confused with a Magnum opus, which can also refer to the greatest work of a single individual (whether seminal or not). Origin of Species is considered Darwin's magnum opus and happens to be a seminal work too. Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon may be described truly as a seminal work--for it is considered the beginning point of Cubism. But Picasso's Guernica is considered by many his magnum opus -- his largest or greatest work. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seminal_work [May 2005]

    see also: work

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