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Marcel Broodthaers

Marcel Broodthaers, Monsieur Teste, 1975, mechanical figure, wicker chair, magazine. Installation view, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2016–17. Photo: Joaquín Cortés/Román Lores. © Estate of Marcel Broodthaers/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SABAM, Brussels.

IT IS INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT, in a political landscape where deliberate confusion—alternative facts and fake news—holds sway, to determine precisely where the boundary between the artificial and the actual is to be drawn. Yet this seemingly contemporary condition was foreseen almost half a century ago by Marcel Broodthaers, who made this dialectic into the very substance of his practice: “When a work of art finds its condition in lies or deception, is it then still a work of art? I do not have the answer.” In a sense, this fundamental uncertainty is intrinsic to the endless staging and restaging of his own work that was exemplified most famously by Broodthaers’s museum series—the celebrated Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, 1968–72—and, in particular, his various décors, as he called them. Starting with Catalogue-Catalogus, 1974, these functioned as

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