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In the Infinitive (À l'infinitif) (The White Box)
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In the Infinitive (À l'infinitif) (The White Box)

Marcel Duchamp, American (born France), 1887 - 1968. Published by Cordier & Eckstrom Gallery, New York.

Made in New York, New York, United States, North and Central America


Box of 79 facsimile notes (dating from 1914-23) contained in a Plexiglas case with a screenprint reproduction of the Glider Containing a Water Mill on the cover

Box: 13 1/8 x 11 1/4 x 1 5/8 inches (33.3 x 28.6 x 4.1 cm)

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Succession Marcel Duchamp

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Library Revolving Fund, 1969

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On a folded piece of paper, in January 1916, Marcel Duchamp jotted a note to himself: "trouver inscription pour Woolworth Bldg comme readymade." Translated to English, the note means "find inscription for Woolworth Bldg as readymade."

A "readymade," according to Duchamp, could be any ordinary object exhibited at an artist's choosing in a gallery or museum to demystify the supposed aura of art. Stripped of its utilitarian purpose and given a title or inscribed with an enigmatic phrase, a readymade questioned traditional notions of creativity, authorship, beauty, function, and value. Built in 1913, the Woolworth Building was then the tallest structure in the world and an unmistakable feature of the New York skyline. Duchamp never came up with an appropriate "inscription" for the building.