This fall, Garage presented the first solo exhibition in Russia of the critically acclaimed Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924–1976).
Developed specifically for the 10th anniversary of the Museum, the exhibition reveals what the artist once described as “the place where the world of visual art and poetry may perhaps converge on the exact dividing line that absorbs both.” Presenting over eighty works, including many of the artist’s key pieces—from early objects and films to sections of the project Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, as well as his last installations with palm trees, also known as décors—the show reveal how Broodthaers’ use of language and unique take on institutional critique led to a cult following among Russian artists. It also examines the potential for rethinking the values of the museum as an institution, a mission Garage has been involved in since it opened ten years ago.
Broodthaers’ artistic career began in 1964, when he was forty years old. His work offered the possibility of a new relationship between text and image, as he had spent over two decades working as a poet and journalist. In 1968, he became the self-designated director of his own conceptual museum, Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, only to declare himself an artist again in 1972, just as his museum gained institutional recognition. A legendary figure, Broodthaers was the pioneer of many conceptual strategies used by contemporary artists today: the idea of medium dissolved in his practice; he did not discriminate between unique and replicated objects; he was one of the first artists to highlight postcolonial issues in his work; and his investigation into the function of museums wrestled with their very structure. He revised and questioned everything that seemed rigid, unconditional, and mandatory, such as the artist’s signature, the status and meaning of text, traditional exhibition formats, art movements, and the mechanisms of art. Looking for “the art of distraction [in] the hope for a new alphabet,” Broodthaers left a rich legacy of enigmatic works ripe with humor, awkwardness, and contradiction, which continue to provide inspiration for new generations of artists around the world.
Broodthaers was born in Brussels in 1924 and died in Cologne in 1976. In twelve years as an artist he participated in over 115 exhibitions across Europe and in the United States, with eleven solo shows in the last year of his life. In 2016–2017, he was the subject of a major retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and K21 Ständehaus, Dusseldorf. In 2015, Monnaie de Paris in Paris and the Fridericianum in Kassel also mounted large-scale shows.
Marcel Broodthaers: Poetry and Images is organized by Kate Fowle, Garage Chief Curator, and Katya Inozemtseva, Garage Senior Curator in collaboration with Marie-Puck Broodthaers.
Garage would like to thank Maria Gilissen Broodthaers and the Estate of Marcel Broodthaers for making this exhibition possible.
Garage is grateful to V-A-C Foundation for the Russian premiere of décors installation.
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