Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy

Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Marcel Duchamp, de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (Boîte-en-valise) (from or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy [Box in a Valise]), 1935–41. Courtesy of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York). © Association Marcel Duchamp, by SIAE 2023. Photo: Matteo De Fina.

November 9, 2023
Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy
October 14, 2023–March 18, 2024
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Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Dorsoduro, 701-704
30123 Venice VE
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Through March 18, 2024, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection presents Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy, curated by Paul B. Franklin, a Paris-based art historian and an internationally acclaimed expert on the life and work of Marcel Duchamp. This is the very first exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection devoted exclusively to Duchamp, among the most influential and innovative artists of the twentieth century and a longtime friend and adviser to the U.S. patron Peggy Guggenheim.

Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy features some sixty artworks dating from 1911 to 1968. These include iconic objects from the permanent collection of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, such as Nu (esquisse), jeune homme triste dans un train (Nude [Sketch], Sad Young Man in a Train) (1911–12) and de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (Boîte-en-valise) (from or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy [Box in a Valise]) (1935–41), as well as from other Italian and US institutions, including the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The exhibition also presents several lesser-known artworks in private hands, including the artist’s estate. Furthermore, fully half of the works on display come from the distinguished Venetian collection of Attilio Codognato, who first took an interest in Duchamp’s work in the early 1970s. 

Peggy Guggenheim met Marcel Duchamp in Paris around 1923. Beginning in the fall of 1937, the artist was one of her most trusted mentors and advisors, as she set out to launch the art gallery Guggenheim Jeune, which opened in London on January 24, 1938, and soon after to build her own collection of modern art. In her memoirs, Confessions of an Art Addict (1960), Guggenheim recalled: “I needed much help and advice, which I got from an old friend, Marcel Duchamp…I don’t know what I would have done without him…I have to thank him for my introduction to the modern art world.” Guggenheim was also one of Duchamp’s early patrons, acquiring the first copy of the deluxe edition of Box in a Valise in 1941.

Examining the radically innovative and varied ways that Duchamp quoted himself over the course of his long career as an artist, Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy is organized in several interrelated sections—Origins, Originals, and Family Resemblances; Past Is Prologue; The Magic of Facsimiles; Authentic Copies; Disciplining and Emboldening the Hand; Cloning the Self, Clothing the Other; Hypnotic Repetition; and Themes and Variations. The exhibition centers on Box in a Valise, an innovative compilation of reproductions and miniature replicas of his creations, and no. I of the deluxe edition of twenty travelling suitcases—the earliest of which is marked Louis Vuitton—featuring an inscription dedicated to Peggy Guggenheim. Box in a Valise is Duchamp’s most compelling encapsulation of his passion for replication as a unique mode of creative expression. Such an overview enables the viewer to grasp the astonishing scope of Duchamp’s lifelong preoccupation with replication as a distinct medium of artistic expression. It also illustrates the extent to which his whimsical, often-hybrid handiworks perturbed and at times totally eluded standard artistic classifications in use at the time of their conception.

Marcel Duchamp and the Lure of the Copy thus offers a rare opportunity to examine a significant selection of the artist’s works in relation to one another, an exercise, as Duchamp frequently argued, essential to comprehending his aesthetic project. In so doing, not only can one discern the intricate visual, thematic, and conceptual connections that unify them as an oeuvre, but also one can grasp the extent to which these whimsical, often-hybrid “items” troubled and sometimes totally escaped standard artistic classifications in use at the time of their conception. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue, published by Marsilio Arte.

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Peggy Guggenheim Collection
November 9, 2023

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