PRINT May 1980

Marcel Broodthaers: Allegories of the Avant-Garde

Allegories are to the realm of thoughts what

Ruins are to the realm of things.

—Walter Benjamin

One part of what delights us today

Was the cause of his death.

—Charles Baudelaire on Edgar Allen Poe

TO THE MELANCHOLIC EYE the world’s gear and active machinations disintegrate into hieroglyphs: enigmatic characters that decipher what is normally concealed from the individual involved in the acts of production. Contemplative stasis lays bare to the bone. Pictures and dramas of industrious cultural enterprise tend to become scriptural once the artist addresses his own discourse. Self-referentiality, in the true sense of the word, as an analysis of one’s proper material and historical condition of discourse and production, results, as we witnessed with Duchamp, in the epistemological model and the libidinal allegory; or, as in the case of Magritte, in the pictograph and in the rebus. The allegorical

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