The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden just saw its holdings of works by Marcel Duchamp go from one to more than 35 pieces. Washington, D.C. collectors Barbara and Aaron Levine have gifted the museum 50 works by or related to Duchamp, including readymades, Rotorelief kinetic sculptures, one of his Box in a Valise miniature collections, and more. The works not by Duchamp are all homages to or images of him, from photographic portraits by Irving Penn and Henri Cartier-Bresson, to works celebrating the artist’s legacy by Man Ray, Hans-Peter Feldmann, and others. The Levines are also donating more than 150 books on Duchamp to the Hirshhorn. The gift is timed to the 50th anniversary of Duchamp’s death.
“We have been collecting conceptual art for a good part of our lives and have been involved with the Hirshhorn for nearly 20 years,” the Levines said in a statement. “This donation of art gives the public access to our collection of Duchamp works that we have lived with and loved. A free museum with nearly 1 million visitors a year is the perfect home for these art works.”
The gifted works span Duchamp’s entire life and career, beginning with a sketch of his sister-in-law Yvonne Duchamp made when he was in his early 20s, and concluding with prints from the last year of his life, 1968. The collection was acquired by the Levines over the course of two decades, and makes the Hirshhorn one of the foremost repositories of Duchamp’s work in the U.S., along with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. The Hirshhorn is planning a Duchamp exhibition to showcase the gifted works in the fall of 2019.