Born Blainville-Crevon, France, 1887. Died Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, 1968
De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (Boîte-en-valise) (From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy [Box in a Suitcase]) Series D, 1941/1961
Box covered in linen containing miniature replicas and color reproductions of works by Duchamp (68 items)
3-½ x 14-5/8 x 15-15/16 inches
Collection Miami Art Museum, museum purchase with funds from Lang Baumgarten as well as from Mimi Floback and Sally Ashton Story in memory of Jon Ashton
Credit line: © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris/Succession Marcel Duchamp
Photo credit: Sid Hoeltzell
Boîte-en-Valise consists of a series of miniature reproductions of the most notable works of Marcel Duchamp's career - all contained within a suitcase. Conceived in 1941 on the eve of Duchamp's momentous departure from Europe to the US, the work serves, in his words, as "a portable museum". With the detached, ironic attitude that is characteristic of his work, the self-exiled artist thus cast himself in the role of traveling salesman, transporting revolutionary artistic ideas rather than housewares - not from door to door but from one continent to another.
From 1941 to 1971, Duchamp's Boîte-en-Valise was issued in seven different series - each slightly different from the others - totaling almost 300 boxes. This example is from Series D, issued in 1961. Like the work in our collection, the original case contained almost seventy separate items, ranging from reproductions of his paintings mounted on cardboard to small models of his landmark "readymades" - mass-produced found objects that Duchamp provocatively rebranded as high art simply by presenting them in exhibitions. Included in the Boîte are replicas (ironically, handmade) of Fountain, an upturned urinal; Paris Air, a glass ampoule containing air from Paris; a photo-reproduction of Bottle Dryer, his first true readymade; and LHOOQ, his irreverent postcard of the Mona Lisa, which he altered by drawing in a beard and mustache.