“Everything important that I have done can be put in a little suitcase” declared Marcel Duchamp. Box in a Valise (Boîte en-valise) is the first of a deluxe edition of twenty Louis Vuitton travel cases, which each contain sixty-nine reproductions and miniaturizations of famous artworks by the multifaceted and irreverent French artist.
In 2019 the collaboration between the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence is renewed. In fact, the isntitutions worked together already in 2015 for the restoration of Alchemy by Jackson Pollock. This time the protagonist is the work “Box in a valise” (Boîte-en-Valise) of 1941 whose restoration is realized thanks to the support of EFG, Institutional Patron of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and which in past years has already supported the projects of conservation of the works of the Collection, “The study” by Picasso and “Woman in a sailor shirt” by Modigliani.
The friendship that tied Duchamp to Peggy Guggenheim lasted a lifetime. The two met in Paris in the 1920s, when the collector was in Europe with her husband, the artist Laurence Vail. There she found herself part of the Parisian art scene and the American expatriate circle. When the patron opened the Guggenheim Jeune art gallery in London in 1938, she officially began a career that would significantly influence the course of post-war art. It was Duchamp who introduced Peggy to the artists and was also the one to teach her, as she states in her autobiography Art of this Century, “the difference between abstract and surrealist art.” Regarding the work of the French artist Peggy writes: “I often thought how amusing it would have been to have gone off on a weekend and brought this along, instead of the usual bag one thought one needed”.
This very particular artwork by Duchamp was executed on different supports such as leather, photographic paper with additions in pencil, watercolour, and ink. The conservative intervention on Duchamp’s work, given its multi-material character, will be coordinated by the conservation department of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and by the Materiali Cartacei e Membranacei dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure e Laboratori di Restauro in Florence.
The objective of the intervention will be, apart from resolving the problems concerning the conservation and display of such a delicate object, to understand better Duchamp’s works process that from this point on will become ‘almost industrial’, being the first of the twenty suitcases. Particularly interesting will be, given the complexity of the object and its stratification of contents, to study the three-dimensional rendering and the virtual modeling of the object, to allow a “deferred” view of the work, to be offered to the general public that otherwise could not appreciate it in its entirety.