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the writings of Marcel Broodthaers

AT SOME POINT, perhaps as early as the 1940s, Marcel Broodthaers—then a café poet and used-book dealer who had yet to publish a volume of his own—wrote a line he liked so much he used it in two of his later poems: “mélancolie aigre château des aigles” (melancholy bitter castle of eagles). The proximity of the key French words aigre and aigle undergirds the surreal disjunction of terms with a material logic. In fact, Broodthaers would famously go on to establish a Département des Aigles in his fictive Musée d’Art Moderne of 1968, an impermanent collection of objects brought together in defiance of a conventional museum’s bureaucratic divisions. As he explained, with a nod to one of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and the Comte de Lautréamont’s notorious standard of beauty:

A comb, a traditional painting, a sewing machine, an umbrella, a table may find a place in a museum in different

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