Boîte-en-valise (Box in a Suitcase)
1961 (original 1941)
Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968)
Not on View

Marcel Duchamp, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, eagerly debated complex questions related to artistic authorship, the nature of the original or unique object and the validity of the idea as art. He is best known for his readymades—found or manufactured objects whose previous purpose is rendered useless, owing to their new classification by the artist. Boite-en-Valise operates much like a mini-museum whose enduring exhibit is a retrospective devoted to the oeuvre of its maker. Duchamp orchestrated this complex assemblage, a new form of expression in its own right, as a record of his life’s work and, in its editioned states, as a souvenir.

The box and its contents—reproductions of his early paintings, sculptures and readymades—function much like a still life. Its arranged motifs are signifiers in a system, presented here in the framework of a box that is its own cultural category. In this case, they refer to the maker’s creativity and genius. Of particular significance to the genre of still life is the intimation of death and of the desire to be remembered.


  • Artist Name: Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968)
  • Title: Boîte-en-valise (Box in a Suitcase)
  • Date: 1961 (original 1941)
  • Medium: Cardboard box containing 68 miniature replicas and reproductions
  • Edition: Edition of 30, Series D of 1961
  • Dimensions: 16 x 14-3/4 x 3-1/2 in. (40.6 x 37.5 x 8.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase
  • Accession Number: P.1963.18
  • Copyright: © Association Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2022

Object Information

Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, sold 1963 to;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, 1963-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena.

American and European Sculpture of the 40's

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1973-04-04 to 1973-05-06

Museums in Miniature: Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell

  • Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego, Calif.), 2009-09-26 to 2010-01-31

Impossible Realities: Marcel Duchamp and the Surrealist Tradition

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1991-07-04 to 1992-03-08

Marcel Duchamp Redux

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2008-04-25 to 2008-12-08

Modernism in Miniature

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2022-08-12 to 2023-01-09

Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 2012-02-11 to 2012-05-06

Marcel Duchamp Festival

  • Irvine, University of California Irivine, Art Gallery, 1970-11-06 to 1971-12-01

Lost but Found: Assemblage, Collage and Sculpture, 1920-2002

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2004-11-05 to 2005-03-28

Duchamp to Pop

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2016-03-04 to 2016-08-29

Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2012-07-20 to 2013-01-21
  • Joyce, Julie et al., Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969, 2012, p. 121

Additional Artwork by Artist

Bottle Dryer (Bottlerack) Marcel Duchamp 1963 (replica of 1914 original)
Boîte alerte (Mailbox) Marcel Duchamp 1959
Couple of Laundress's Aprons Marcel Duchamp 1959

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