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ANOTHER ALPHABET: THE ART OF MARCEL BROODTHAERS

Faithfully in spite of the winds that blow. I, too, am an apostle of silence.

Marcel Broodthaers

UNTIL HIS 40TH YEAR, 1964, Marcel Broodthaers was a poet with an interest in the visual arts, of which from time to time he wrote criticism. His conversion from poet to artist was marked by an exhibition in which the 50 remaining copies of his recent book of poems Pense-Bête (Think like an animal1) were ensconced in a plaster base and exhibited as sculpture. After 12 years of artistic work, Broodthaers died in 1976. He had contradicted and recontradicted in the most deliberate way many of the public statements he had made about his art in the form of “open letters” and exhibition announcements. Accordingly, at his death, a certain critical void surrounded the work. No standard discourses about it had yet developed; it lay like an uncolonized territory inviting the planting of flags of possession.

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