MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
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MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La boîte en valise, series F)

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La boîte en valise, series F)
the complete set of 80 miniature replicas and reproductions of works by the artist, mounted on and contained in the original cardboard, paper, wood and red linen box, signed in ink inside the box housing reproductions, conceived 1935-1941, from the unnumbered edition of 75, in very good condition, in the original red leather-covered outer box, with very minor wear to the corners of the outer box
16 3/8 x 15 ¼ x 3 7/8 in. (415 x 385 x 99 mm.)
Marcel Duchamp
Alexina ( Teeny) Duchamp, by descent from the artist
Pierre Noel Matisse, by descent from the above
Jacquelyn Miller Matisse, by descent from the above
R. Lebel, Marcel Duchamp, New York 1959, pp. 54, 55, 82, 83 and 173-174, no. 173 (another example illustrated, p. 109).
C. Tomkins, The World of Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968, New York 1966, p. 156.
A. Schwartz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, New York 1970, pp. 511 and 513, no. 311a (another version illustrated).
E. Bonk, Marcel Duchamp, The Box in a Valise: de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rose Sélavy, New York 1989, pp. 257 and 298 (other examples illustrated, pp. 258-297).
C. Tomkins, Duchamp: A Biography, New York 1996, pp. 314-328.
D. Ades, N. Cox and D. Hopkins, Marcel Duchamp, London 1999, pp. 175 and 178.
Joseph Cornell / Marcel Duchamp, exh. cat., Philadelphia, Philadephia Museum of Art, 1998-1999, pp. 287 and 333, no. 29 (another version exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 145).
F.M. Naumann, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, New York 1999, p. 142, no. 5.31 (another version illustrated in colour).
A. Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, New York 2000, vol. I, pp. 47, 762 and 764, no. 484 (another example illustrated in colou, p. 407, pl. 191; another example illustrated again, p. 763).
Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, exh. cat., London, Tate Modern, 2008, p. 142, no. 188 (another example exhibited; illustrated in colour).
F.M. Naumann, The Recurrent, Haunting Ghost: Essays on the Art, Life and Legacy of Marcel Duchamp, New York 2012, pp. 136-157 (another example illustrated in colour, p. 136).
l. Witham, Picasso and the Chess Player: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and the Battle for the Soul of Modern Art, Hanover 2013, pp. 167 and 183-184 (another example illustrated).

Lot Essay

The Association Marcel Duchamp have confirmed the authenticity of this work.

La boîte, Marcel Duchamp's "Portable Museum", was a portable kunstkabinet "of approximately all the things I produced" that preoccupied Duchamp for much of the 1930s. Duchamp continued to reproduce and update La boîte in a series of differing versions until his death in 1968. Originally, La boîte consisted of sixty-eight miniature replicas of his most important works. Each was painstakingly reproduced and assembled into a briefcase-sized box, La boîte. Beginning in 1966, Ducahmp expanded portfolio to include twelve additional reproductions of significant works from his ouevre. On the whole, La boîte represents a Duchampian take on the nature and comparative value of the work of art, the museum and the multiple all rolled into one.
Duchamp's methods in the first sixty-eight reproductions of his artworks for the box were slow and antiquated considering modern printing capabilities. For example, in the case of the painted works, rather than use the speedy reproduction techniques that were available, he deliberately opted for an elaborate and obsolescent method; collotype printing, with color applied by hand through stencils (pochoirs). However, for several of the twelve works added in 1966, Duchamp collected mass-produced offsets and printings executed for museum exhibitions and art magazines. By deliberately mixing highly time-consuming techniques and cheap commercial reproductions, Duchamp was intentionally blurring the boundaries between the unique art object and the multiple.
The construction of the case, its folding components and the precise nature of the reproduction of each of the sixty-nine elements (of the original series, or Ecke Bonk’s Series A)) took him over five years. The first edition was prepared in 1938 but was not yet completed when war broke out. Duchamp continued to work on it under the Occupation and then took it to the United States. He smuggled the components out in various sections during the course of several trips to France in the guise of a cheese merchant. It was not until his arrival in New York in 1941 that he was able to complete the first edition known as "La boîte en valise". For later editions, Duchamp abandoned the valise in favor of either linen or leather boxes. To assemble and compile the reproductions, various associates collaborated with the artist to complete each box. Some of his collaborators included Patricia Matta Kane, as well as the artists Joseph Cornell and Xenia Cage (married to composer and artist John Cage). The current work was assembled by Jaqueline Matisse Monnier (Duchamp’s stepdaughter) in 1966.
In the years that have passed since the valise was completed, it has gradually acquired new meaning and significance within the Duchamp oeuvre; it is no longer considered a mere collection of reproductions having little more than documentary value, but, rather, a unique and important work of art in its own right. Moreover, as we advance into the years of a new century, it can be seen that the basic ideas it presents - appropriation and replication - are themes explored in the work of an ever-growing number of young contemporary artists. It is these artists who carry Duchamp's legacy into the future, for, in different ways and to varying degrees, they continue to build upon the conceptual strategies he so neatly - and brilliantly - packed into his portable museum.

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