Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective" at Museum of Modern Art

     The Belgian conceptual artist and poet Marcel Broodthaers had an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The show consists of around 200 films, sculptures, poem, photographs and installation for Broodthaers’s first New York retrospective. He used words and text as materials in his wide-ranging conceptual works and ready-mades is also placed at the center of his work. The most identified with his sculptures, made out of mussel and egg shells are well represented at MoMA.
     In addition to his sculptures, the intriguing part of the show is how he conceptually explored the idea of absence. Broodthaers was deeply influenced by French Symbolists Stéphane Mallarmé, as well as the surrealist painter René Magritte, who gave Broodthaers a copy of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance) in 1945, which would become an important inspiration for Broodthaer’s own art making practices. He engraved Mallarmé’s poem on aluminum plates and redacted words with black rectangles on transparent paper. In his further visual representation of the poem, he explored the relationship between the words and the blank space, transforming the words into an abstract image of the poem. The contents are now missing, the viewer only can have sensory experience with the pure image of text. His idea of absence is embedded in material forms, which represents his poetic sensibility, just like an empty egg shells.

Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance)Artist’s book, offset lithograph on transparent paper, 32.4 × 24.9 cm, Edition of 90, 1969 at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Etching. Marcel Broodthaers. Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard. Artist's book on twelve aluminum plates.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you explored the idea of absence in the Broodthaers exhibition. The way Broodthaers played with language is the ultimate play on postmodernism: the act of turning everything into a text to be read, and, in this case, manipulated as an object of language. I do feel, however, that too much of this review is spent describing things. The first paragraph, for instance, takes up too much of the piece describing the show and his work less in a way that provides context, but more a plain description of the show’s mechanics. I had a similar sentiment with the description of Broodthaers’s history with Magritte, et al, in the second paragraph. I’d like more discussion of pieces from the show and how they utilize this idea of absence.