MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
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), Series C

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte), Series C
signed, inscribed and dated 'Roz Mel grande amitié devrait être en un mot et affectueusement à tous deux Marcel 1959' (in ink on the interior of the case)
the complete set of 68 miniature replicas and reproductions of works by the artist, mounted on and contained in the original cardboard, paper, wood and cloth-covered box
overall: 15 3⁄4 x 14 3⁄4 x 3 1⁄2 in. (400 x 375 x 90 mm.)
Conceived in 1935-1941; this example is from the edition of 30 assembled in 1958 by Iliazd (Ilia Zdanovitch)
Acquired from the artist by the late owners, November 1959.
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, 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.
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 color).
A. Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, New York, 2000, vol. I, pp. 47, 762 and 764, no. 484 (another example illustrated in color, p. 407, pl. 191; another example illustrated again, p. 763).
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 color, 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).
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sweet Dreams and Nightmares: Dada and Surrealism from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, March-May 2000.
New York, Pace/MacGill Gallery, The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, April-May 2009.
Paris, Galerie Marion Meyer, Claude Rutault, November 2009-January 2010.
Further details
The Association Marcel Duchamp has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

“Everything important that I have done can be put into a small suitcase”
- Marcel Duchamp (quoted in W. Sargeant, “Dada’s Daddy: A New Tribute Is Paid to Duchamp, Pioneer of Nonsense and Nihilism,” Life, no. 32, 28 April 1952, no. 17, p. 102)

La boîte en valise, Marcel Duchamp's “Portable Museum,” is a compendium of miniature versions of his own oeuvre. The idea of creating La Boîte preoccupied Duchamp for much of the 1930s–the decade during which discussions surrounding institutionalization of modern art as well as its role in the age of mechanical reproduction first came into focus. Functioning as an independent, original work of art, La Boîte encapsulates the artist’s take on the value of a work of art, the concept of an art museum, as well as the nature of creating multiples. Originally consisting of sixty-eight miniature replicas of his most important works, each painstakingly reproduced and assembled into a briefcase-sized box, Duchamp continued to reproduce and remake La Boîte in a series of different versions until his death in 1968.
The quality and methodology behind creating the reproductions of La Boîte was of utmost importance to Duchamp. The facsimiles for the box were created by the old-fashioned method of collotype printing, with color applied by hand through pochoirs. Before each work was reproduced, the artist made extensive notes on its precise coloring to ensure each reproduction was as close to the original as possible. This time-consuming, antiquated method of reproduction blurred the distinctions among unique or original works, multiples and reproductions. To add further ambiguity to what is to be considered as an original work of art by Duchamp, the artist certified some of his reproductions as originals.
La boîte en valise is a brilliant embodiment of Duchamp’s prolific career as an artist; however, much more than a mere collection of reproductions of the lifetime oeuvre of a single artist, it is a work whose importance extends far beyond of the lifetime of the artist. As Walter Arensberg commented when he first saw a finalized edition of La Boîte in 1943: “It has been difficult to know exactly what to say of such an epitome of a life work…You have invented a new kind of biography. It is a kind of autobiography in a performance of marionettes. You have become the puppeteer of your past” (quoted in C. Tomkins, op. cit., 1996, p. 316).
The Jacobses’ Series C version of La boîte en valise is one of 30 boîtes of this type which were assembled in Paris from 1957-1958 by Duchamp’s friend Iliazd (Ilia Zdanovitch), the well-known Futurist writer, artist and publisher. Series C includes a new label for the Arensberg Collection pasted into a black folder and a new casting of Fountain. Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs acquired their boîte from the artist in November 1959 who dedicated it to 'RozMel,' the couple’s Duchampian alter ego. The other work by Duchamp in the collection, Feuille de vigne femelle, is similarly dedicated with this sobriquet.

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