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Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy?

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

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Marcel Duchamp

French, 1887-1968

Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy?, 1921 (re-created 1964)

marble cubes, thermometer, metal cage, perches, and cuttlebones

Edition: 2/8 plus 3 hors-commerce

overall: 4 1/2 x 8 5/8 x 6 5/16 inches (11.43 x 21.9075 x 16.03375 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, 1972


More Details


signature, dated / bottom front edge of cage / Marcel Duchamp 1964
inscription / underside of cage, applied lettering / WHY / NOT / SNEE/ ROSE / SÉLAVY? / 1921
label; collector's mark / box, inside cover / Mary Sisler Collection / Palm Beach, Florida
signature, dated; edition notation; inscription / box, copper plate screwed to lid / [artist's signature, 1964] 2/8 / [title, original date, publisher's name]


1964, fabricated by Galleria Schwarz, Milan, under the direction of Marcel Duchamp, in a signed and numbered edition of 8, plus 3 hors de commerce;
1964, Mary Sisler [died ca. 1990], New York and Palm Beach;
M. Knoedler & Co., New York;
May 1, 1972, purchased by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo



Work Type

Object sculpture

Information may change due to ongoing research.Glossary of Terms

Like most of Marcel Duchamp’s art, Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy? invites multiple interpretations while resisting attempts to reduce these to one meaning. The Rose Sélavy of the title is Duchamp’s female alter ego, whose name is a pun on the French phrase “Éros c’est la vie,” or “Eros is life.” Male-female duality, an important aspect of Duchamp’s thought, may provide insight into one of the work’s possible meanings. The cage could act as a female symbol and a stand-in for Rose Sélavy and the thermometer as the male counterpart, standing in for Duchamp. The combination of elements could also be a reference to body temperature or the heat of passion.

Label from Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One: Humor and Satire from the Collection, November 19, 2016–March 19, 2017

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