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Marcel Duchamp

Boîte-en-valise (Box in a Valise), series B

c. 1942–54

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The French American artist Marcel Duchamp is famously known as the founder of the readymade—objects removed from their everyday context and presented as art. His Boîte-en-valise, a box in a suitcase, consisting of sixty-seven small-scale reproductions of his own work, suggest intensive preparations for his geopolitical displacements between 1940 and 1945. He spent five years, from 1935 to 1940, recreating this portable structure of his “whole life’s work”, as he explained in miniature through photographs, hand-colored reproductions, and diminutive models. From 1941 to 1968, he produced approximately three hundred versions of the Boîte in seven editions. This version includes such signature works as his once-scandalous urinal, titled Fountain (1917), and the irreverent L. H. O. O. Q. (1919), a postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with a mustache and goatee added by Duchamp. As did the readymade, Duchamp’s intensive practice of exact, albeit miniature, reproduction undercut common notions of originality and authenticity giving among other things homelessness and artistic form. [Permanent collection label, 2023]

  • Artist Marcel Duchamp (American, b. France, 1887–1969)
  • Title Boîte-en-valise (Box in a Valise), series B
  • Date c. 1942–54
  • Medium Cardboard box containing miniature replicas and printed reproductions
  • Edition description unnumbered (ed. 60-75 copies)
  • Dimensions closed | 3 1/16 x 15 3/8 x 13 3/4 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, Bixby Fund, with funds from Aurelia Gerhard Schlapp and Samuel Kootz Gallery, by exchange, 2015
  • Object number WU 2015.0002 a-ppp

Artists in Exile: European Surrealists in the US during and after World War II
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/01/2023

Purchase approved by ACC on 4/9/2015
Rhonda Shearer, Art Science Research Library (New York, NY)

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