Marcel Duchamp, The Box in a Valise/Boite en Valise (Series E) From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy [de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy], 1963. Photo: Association Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2018.

Hirshhorn Gifted More Than Fifty Works by Marcel Duchamp and His Contemporaries

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced today that it has received “the most significant gift of art since Joseph Hirshhorn’s passing in 1981.” The donation of more than fifty artworks includes thirty-five seminal pieces by artist Marcel Duchamp and a number of photographs and works on paper by his contemporaries and artists he’s influenced such as Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Man Ray, and Tristan Tzara.

Collectors Barbara and Aaron Levine amassed the significant private holdings of Duchamp works over the course of twenty years. In addition to the artworks, they will also donate their library of more than 150 books on Duchamp, dating from the late 1930s through the present. “This donation of art gives the public access to our collection of Duchamp works that we have lived with and loved,” Barbara Levine, a trustee emeritus, said in a statement. “A free museum with nearly one million visitors a year is the perfect home for these art works.”

At the core of the collection is a number of the artist’s iconic ready-mades including Hat Rack, Comb, Apolinère Enameled, With Hidden Noise, L.H.O.O.Q., and Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy as well as, Duchamp’s Box in a Valise—a compendium of miniature reproductions of more than sixty of the artist’s works—and works on paper such as Female Hanged Body and Study for the Bachelors in the Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries (all created in the early twentieth century).

According to Hirshhorn board chair Daniel Sallick, the gift, which was made ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of Duchamp’s death—he passed on October 2, 1968—will make the institution one of the leading resources on the artist. Prior to the donation, the museum owned only one of Duchamp’s sculptures. A selection of the works will be featured in an exhibition on the evolution of his career, which is slated to open in the fall of 2019.