MARCEL BROODTHAERS

(b. 1924 Brussels, Belgium - d. 1976 Cologne, Germany)

 

Marcel Broodthaers 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.