Parisian Gallery Focuses on Multiples and Editions in New Show
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-10-11
Box containing the limited edition of 'Sur Marcel Duchamp' by Robert Lebel, 1958 Succession Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris, 2011
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Perrotin, a gallery on Rue Turenne, in Paris that represents Tatiana Trouve and Matthew Day Jackson among other top contemporary artists, is currently hosting a exhibition entitled "Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, and Takashi Murakami: A History of Editions." By way of inciting general reflection on the issue of multiples and "mass-produced" sets in "fine" art (which really achieved widespread legitimacy only with the arrival of Warhol and Lichtenstein), Gallery Perrotin is showcasing three creators whose contributions in this realm are perhaps lesser known.  Duchamp, indeed, was one of the pioneers of the practice of signing and selling reproduced sets of his work. Examples include both the rotoreliefs -- which he produced in new editions in 1953, 1959, 1963 and 1965, distributing them internationally -- and the Box en Valises, leather packages containing miniature replicas of his entire oeuvre: everyone (theoretically) gets one.

These Duchamp considered authentic Duchamps every bit as much as say, the Large Glass that now hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is legitimate to ask of course whether this was a clever commercial ploy or a radical stride towards the democratization of art, or both/and. The German Marxist critic Walter Benjamin, in his famous essay "Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility," argued for the liberatory potential of said reproducibility -- on the grounds that it freed aesthetics from the privileged "aura" of the sacral object.

However, it is glaringly clear by now that the very industrial phenomenon the Frankfurter trumpeted can lead also to a degree of tedious fetishization (and pedantic argumentation) that would've embarassed even bygone priesthoods. (

Luckily, whatever side of the big issue you come down on, there are still plenty of little whimsical gems at Perrotin worth uncovering. These include an excellent collection of dada posters and 'zines, various Duchamp-related cartoons, and an enigmatic reflective foil square stating A Guest + A Ghost = A Host (a Duchampian phrase once exegized by Stephen Jay Gould in our pages:

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