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THIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT: MARCEL BROODTHAERS’ SECTION PUBLICITÉ

Maggots. They subdivide. And never stop.

Marcel Broodthaers, Pense-Bête (1964)

If Joseph Kosuth was the André Breton of Conceptual art, then Marcel Broodthaers was the movement’s Georges Bataille. This is not a perfect analogy, of course, but it is telling: on the one hand, we have a figure obsessed with definition and control, with the construction of artistic genealogies, with the celebration of art as idea, and on the other, a figure dedicated to dispersion and subversion, to the laughter that baffles power, to the elaboration of a new concept of materialism. Surrealism’s self-proclaimed “enemy from within,” Bataille contrasted Breton’s idealism and his own materialism in his essay “The ‘Old Mole’ and the Prefix Sur in the Word Surhomme [Superman] and Surrealist” (ca. 1929) through the almost childlike opposition of two animals: the eagle and the mole. One is high, the other low. One

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