Marcel Duchamp

La Boîte-en-Valise [Box in a Suitcase] (1935 - 1941)

About this artwork

This leather case contains sixty-nine miniature reproductions of Duchamp's works. This is number two of twenty-four de-luxe versions of the case. Each of these features a different, hand-coloured 'original' fixed to the inside of the lid. The box 'unpacks' in such a way that some sections slide out, with other folders and black-mounted prints inside. For Duchamp there was no clear distinction between the original and the reproduction, a concept cleverly embodied in this piece. The case is also reminiscent of a travelling salesman's display case, containing a selection of Duchamp's pre-1935 work like a portable museum, made for his move to New York in 1942.

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Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp was born in France, but lived for much of his adult life in America. In 1911 he was painting in a cubist style, but he virtually stopped painting after 1912. Duchamp was intrigued by the idea that ordinary, mass-produced things could be considered as art objects in their own right. He preferred simply to sign, and sometimes alter, household objects, terming them 'readymades'. On moving to America in 1915, Duchamp became a leading figure in the New York Dada group, along with Picabia and Man Ray. His questioning attitude towards definitions of authenticity, originality, artistry and authorship has been immensely influential.