de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise)

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La Boîte-en-valise (box in a suitcase) is a type of mixed media assemblage by Marcel Duchamp consisting of a group of reproductions of the artist's works inside a box that was, in some cases, accompanied by a leather valise or suitcase. Duchamp made multiple versions of this type between 1935 and 1966.[1] Titled From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy (The Box in a Valise) (de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy [Boîte-en-valise], Duchamp conceived of the boxes as a portable museum:

Instead of painting something new, my aim was to reproduce the paintings and objects I liked and collect them in as small a space as possible. I did not know how to go about it. I first thought of a book, but I did not like the idea. Then it occurred to me that it could be a box in which all my works would be collected and mounted like in a small museum, a portable museum, so to speak. This is it, this valise.[2][3]


Launched in 1935 and sold from 1941 by subscription in the United States, the box-in-a-suitcase is based on the idea of the condensed universe of the boîte surréaliste and a cabinet of curiosities as a portable museum.[citation needed]

The work consists of a brown leather carrying case[4] (the prospectus describes it as a "leather pull-out box"), 40 x 37.5 x 8.2 cm, containing 69 reproductions of the major works by Duchamp, including many photographs, lithographs and miniature replicas of ready-mades like Fountain, and reduced-sizes models on Rhodoïd (cellulose acetate) such as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even.

From 1941 to 1966, 312[5] boxes were produced for subscribers. The first series, numbered XX/XX, (known as luxury editions) contain an original work by Duchamp on the inside lid of the case.[6][7] All are signed "De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy" ("From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy").

The 1914 box[edit]

Since 1913, Duchamp had imagined a box edited in several copies, containing reproductions of his works and his notes: the first version is from 1914, which brings together facsimiles of the first sketches and preparatory notes for The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, reproduced on 13 silver glass plates; there are 3 copies,[8] five copies according to others,[9][10] one of which is at the Centre Georges Pompidou,[11][12] another is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[13] The container for the box was a commercial cardboard box for photographic plates.[8]

In an Interview with Pierre Cabanne, Duchamp explains:

For the "Box" of 1913-1914, it's different. I didn't have the idea of a box as much as just notes. I thought I could collect, in an album like the Saint-Etienne catalogue, some calculations, some reflections, without relating them. Sometimes they're torn pieces of paper... I wanted that album to go with the "Glass" and to be consulted when seeing the "Glass" because, as I see it, it must not be "looked at" in the aesthetic sense of the word. One must consult the book, and see the two together. The conjunction of the two things entirely removes the retinal aspect that I don't like. It was very logical.

— Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp[14]

The 1914 box contains facsimile notes and three photographs of a piece of string mounted on canvas and a note that led to the work: 3 Standard Stoppages.[15][16] It also contains a single drawing of a cyclist riding uphill titled Avoir l'appenti du soleil (To Have the Apprentice in the Sun).

One of the notes in the box makes an early reference to Duchamps last work: Étant donnés, "Etant donné que ....; si je suppose que je sois souffrant beacoup ...."[17]

The Green Box[edit]

In 1934, Duchamp made a new box that contained new preparatory notes for The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even), a collection of eight years of ideas, reflections, thoughts; 93 documents in total (written notes, drawings, photographs).[18] The Large Glass had been badly damaged upon its return from an exhibition at the Brooklyn museum of art in 1926 to its owner, Katherine Dreier, who lived in West Reading, Connecticut. Duchamp repaired the glass in 1936.[19]

Each of those was lithographed and printed on paper that was similar to the paper he used in his preparations. Printed in an edition of 320 (with 20 containing an original work numbered I to XX; a series called the "luxury edition"), the final work was nicknamed La Boîte verte (Green Box) and bears the inscription "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even" in punched-out caps. The publisher is listed as Rrose Sélavy,[Notes 1] Through André Breton, Duchamp explained in 1932 that he intended to give the notes a public reading.[20][Notes 2]

The Box in a Valise[edit]

Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise, Cleveland Museum of Art

In 1935 Duchamp wrote in a letter to Katherine Dreier: "I want to make, sometime, an album of approximately all the things I produced."[21]

Between 1935 and 1941 Duchamp create a number of boxes called The Box in a Valise or From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Selavy, that contained three 3-dimensional replicas of his works; Paris Air, Underwood and Fountain.[22] The work was released in seven series, A through G. The first series, A, is numbered 1/XX though XX/XX and is a deluxe edition containing an original work of art, mounted in the lid of the box. It contains replicas of Duchamp's works mounted in a wooden frame that slide out in two wings, steadied by brass clips. The case contains 69 reproductions. The colour reproductions were produced using an already obsolete technique called pochoir, where a stencil was used to apply colour on a black-and-white reproduction, making every image, in a way, an original.[23][19] The works in the deluxe edition consist of a plywood box, fitted inside a leather-covered suitcase. When the box is opened, the frame is exposed in the form of an "M" for "Marcel".[19] Duchamp eventually tired of creating the boxes himself and hired assistants to aid in their construction, including Xenia Cage and Joseph Cornell.[19]

Series F were produced until 1966 and are in a red leather box.[19] In addition to the standard 68 works in the previous series, the F series contains 12 additional works, including the Wedge of Chastity and Objet-dart.[19] The Large Glassis reproduced on Rhodoïd (cellulose acetate).

The color reproductions created using the pochoir technique took approximately 8 weeks to make. They were based on extensive colour notes taken by Duchamp, who travelled to visit each work and take notes.[24] Prints contain approximately 30 individual colours.[25][24]

Around the same time that Duchamp worked on the Box in a Valise, Walter Benjamin published The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. While Benjamin lamented the loss of the artwork's aura, Duchamp appears to have embraced it.[19] Duchamp delighted in the fact that critics at the time still clung to the auratic notion of the singular art work and considered the work a print edition, not a work of art in itself.[citation needed] Benjamin himself, on the other hand, in 1937 in his diary noted: "Saw Duchamp this morning, same café on the Boulevard St. Germain. Showed me his painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, in a reduced format, coloured by hand, en-pochoir. Breathtakingly beautiful."[citation needed] Rosalind Krauss describes how the reproductions became originals (stamped by the artist's hand), yet resisted the notion of artistic singularity in both their status as prints and their identities as miniaturized copies of singular artworks.[24]

The reproductions carry a stamp from a notary, who authenticated the facsimiles at the request of Duchamp.[citation needed]As scholar David Joselit argues, though the reproductions appear to be commemorating Duchamp's oeuvre in order to consolidate his artistic reputation, the compulsive act of repetition both constitutes and destroys the self: Duchamp treats his own identity as a readymade.[26]

The White Box[edit]

In 1966, Cordier & Ekstrom edited a new edition, A l'inifintif (In the infinitive) also called The White Box, gathering new unpublished notes from the period 1912 – 1920 in an edition of 150. The box contains 79 facsimiles of notes from 1914 – 23 in a Plexiglas case of 33.3 x 29 x 3.8 cm.[27]


The Fluxus group borrowed the idea of the Boite-en-valise for their Fluxkits.

Museum collections[edit]


  • Centre Georges Pompidou La boîte de 1914 1913 – 1914[11]
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art The Box of 1914[13]
  • Musee Maillol, Paris [9]
  • Art Institute of Chicago[9]
  • Jacques Villon once owned a fifth copy, which is lost[9]


Tate The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors Even (The Green Box) [28]

1935 - 1941[edit]

Series A 1941[edit]

Series F 1966[edit]


  • Bonk, Ecke (1989). Marcel Duchamp the box in a valise: de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Selavy. New York, NY: Rizzoli. OCLC 993482738.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Duchamp's alter ego whose name is a pun on "Eros, c'est la vie" (Eros is life)
  2. ^ In This Quarter (Vol V, No1) of September first published notes by Duchamp two years before the Green Box with a preface by André Breton who calls the notes calls the notes an "from a large, unpublished collection [...] intended to accompany and explain (as might an ideal exhibition catalogue) the 'verre' (painting on clear glass) known as The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Own Bachelors."


  1. ^ " | Interactives | Exhibitions | 1999 | Museum as Muse | Duchamp". Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  2. ^ Marcel Duchamp interview on Art and Dada (1956), retrieved 2021-06-26
  3. ^ Nelson, James (1958). Wisdom: conversations with the elder wise men of our day. Internet Archive. New York, Norton. p. 98.
  4. ^ " | Interactives | Exhibitions | 1999 | Museum as Muse | Duchamp". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  5. ^ 300 according to Centre Pompidou
  6. ^ "La boîte-en-valise - Marcel Duchamp". Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  7. ^ Duchamp's 'La Boîte-en-Valise' [Box in a Suitcase] installation video, retrieved 2021-06-26
  8. ^ a b Bloch, Susi (1974). "Marcel Duchamp's Green Box". Art Journal. 34 (1): 25–29. doi:10.2307/775863. JSTOR 775863.
  9. ^ a b c d Franklin, Paul B. (2016-06-01). The Artist and His Critic Stripped Bare: The Correspondence of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Lebel. Getty Publications. ISBN 9781606064436.
  10. ^ Kaduri, Yael (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Western Art. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199841547.
  11. ^ a b "La boîte de 1914 | Centre Pompidou". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  12. ^ "Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais -". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  13. ^ a b Art, Philadelphia Museum of. "Philadelphia Museum of Art - Collections Object : The Box of 1914". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  14. ^ Cabanne, Pierre (2009). Dialogues With Marcel Duchamp. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780786749713.
  15. ^ "Marcel Duchamp. 3 Standard Stoppages. Paris 1913-14 | MoMA". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  16. ^ "News, TOUT-FAIT: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  17. ^ Lyotard, Jean-François; Judovitz, Dalia (2010). Duchamp's TRANS/formers (in French). Universitaire Pers Leuven. p. 100. ISBN 9789058677907.
  18. ^ Duchamp, Marcel (1934). La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires même. OCLC 956687080.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Dartmouth (2012-05-02), Marcel Duchamp: The Box in a Valise, retrieved 2018-11-08
  20. ^ "Science meets Art: This Quarter and Jacob Bronowski". 2014-10-27. Archived from the original on 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  21. ^ Stahl, Joan (1990). "Review of MARCEL DUCHAMP: THE BOX IN A VALISE". Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America. 9 (3): 153. doi:10.1086/adx.9.3.27948252. JSTOR 27948252.
  22. ^ "Box in Valise". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  23. ^ "Afterthought: Ruminations on Duchamp and Walter Benjamin | Toutfait". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  24. ^ a b c Foster, Hal; Krauss, Rosalind; Bois, Yve-Alain; Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. (2016). Art since 1900: modernism, antimodernism, postmodernism (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Thames & Hudson. pp. 322–323. ISBN 978-0-500-29271-6. OCLC 940361732.
  25. ^ Bonk, Ecke (1989). Marcel Duchamp the box in a valise: de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Selavy. New York, NY: Rizzoli. OCLC 993482738.
  26. ^ David., Joselit (2001). Infinite regress : Marcel Duchamp, 1910-1941. MIT. ISBN 0-262-60038-2. OCLC 889737705.
  27. ^[bare URL PDF]
  28. ^ Tate. "'The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors Even (The Green Box)', Marcel Duchamp, 1934 | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  29. ^ a b "Sammlung Marcel Duchamp". (in German). Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  30. ^ "Marcel Duchamp, Boite (Box), 1941/1963". MCA. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  31. ^ "Marcel Duchamp. From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy (The Box in a Valise) (de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (Boîte-en-valise). published 1966, reproductions produced 1935-40 and 1963-66 | MoMA". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  32. ^ "Guggenheim". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  33. ^ "Kemper Art Museum acquires Marcel Duchamp 'Boîte-en-valise' | The Source | Washington University in St. Louis". The Source. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  34. ^ "From or By Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy (The Box in a Valise) - Online Collection - Akron Art Museum". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  35. ^ nationalgalleries (2013-03-01), Duchamp's 'La Boîte-en-Valise' [Box in a Suitcase] installation video, retrieved 2018-11-08

External links[edit]