Words of Art by Marcel Broodthaers

Words of Art by Marcel Broodthaers

There is something mysterious, almost magic and charming in the Flemish territory, something that has joined – in a sort of crazy marriage – this small area with art, in all its many forms. Belgium has been for centuries an inexhaustible ground of minds, that gave birth to old masters and well known contemporary artists like Pieter Paul Rubens, Pieter Bruegel, René Magritte, James Ensor, Luc Tuymans, Wim Delvoye and Jan Fabre, just to name a few.

Marcel Broodthaers is among them with his personal, short – he died prematurely for a liver disease on his 52nd birthday in 1976 –, influential and unique experimental research. Broodthaers made his first step into the art world at the age of 40 – after living years in poverty as a poet –, creating an art object (an assemblage) focused on the status of the artwork: a pack in plaster realised with unsold copies of his book of poems Pense-Bête. In 1968 the artist played, in a sarcastic and ‘Duchampian’ way, with the cultural institutions founding the Musèe d’Art ModerneDépartement des Aigles di Bruxelles: his private/sham museum where the exhibited works were accompanied by the words‘ this is not an artwork’.

Object, image and word are the ingredients of Marcel Broodthaers’ approach, dressed with a constructive and ironic critic of the art system, which aimed at demonstrating that there is no direct relationship between art and its message. Belgian thigh-bones painted as flags, columns of mussels bursting out from casseroles, visual alphabets and rebus, rooms set up with weapons, everyday life objects and antiques that clash and catch unprepared, are just some examples of the artist’s vivid and smart poetic, created through the interaction among different languages and an introspective eye. Even if Broodthaers is recognized as an international artist of the 60’s and 70’s, he always preserve his status of outsider, rarely mentioned or displayed, whose work is impressively up-to-date.

A current exhibition entitled L’espace de l’écriture is dedicated to the artistic genius Marcel Broodthaers and will run until 6 May 2012 at MAMbo – Museum of modern Art of Bologna.

Monica Lombardi