New York City, NY
Marcel Broodthaers (Belgian, 1924–1976) worked primarily as a poet until the age of 40, when he turned to the visual arts. Over the next 12 years, his work retained a poetic quality and a sense of humor that balanced its conceptual framework; for his first solo exhibition, he encased unsold copies of his latest poetry book, Pense-Bête (Memory aid, 1964), in plaster, turning them into a sculpture. Broodthaers continued to invent ways to give material form to language while working across mediums—poetry, sculpture, painting, artist’s books, printmaking, and film.
From 1968 to 1972, he operated the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles), a traveling museum dedicated not to his work as an artist but to the role of the institution itself and the function of art in society. In the final years of his life, Broodthaers created immersive “décors,” large-scale displays in which examples of his past work were often unified with objects borrowed for the occasion.
This exhibition—the first Broodthaers retrospective organized in New York—will reunite key works from all aspects of his art making to underscore the complex trajectory of his career, which despite its brief duration proved enormously influential to future generations of artists.
Credit: Exhibition Overview from the MOMA website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog Marcel Broodthaers examines the artist's work across all mediums. Essays by a host of scholars provide historical and theoretical context for the artist's work. The book also features new translations of many of Broodthaers' texts. Setting a precedent for what we call installation art today, his work has had a profound influence on a broad range of contemporary artists, and he remains vitally relevant to cultural discourse at large.