Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective

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*Moi aussi, je me suis demandé…*

Marcel Broodthaers. Moi aussi, je me suis demandé…. 1964 65101

Marcel Broodthaers (Belgian, 1924–1976). Invitation to Moi aussi, je me suis demandé si je ne pouvais pas vendre quelque chose et réussir dans la vie… (I, too, wondered whether I couldn’t sell something…). Galerie Saint Laurent, April 10–25, 1964. Letterpress on magazine page, unfolded sheet: 9 15/16 × 13 1/4″ (25.2 × 33.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Prints and Illustrated Books Fund, 2013. Photograph by Peter Butler. © 2016 Estate of Marcel Broodthaers/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SABAM, Brussels

Francesca Wilmott: Broodthaers published several volumes of poetry but struggled to earn a living from his writing. In 1964, he began making visual art. These invitations announced his first solo exhibition, at the Galerie Saint Laurent in Brussels. Broodthaers also posted them to the gallery door. They feature a kind of manifesto:

Christophe Cherix (as Marcel Broodthaers): I, too, wondered whether I could not sell something and succeed in life. For some time I have been good for nothing. I am forty years old . . . Finally the idea of inventing something insincere crossed my mind and I set to work straightaway. At the end of three months I showed what I had produced to Edouard Toussaint, the owner of the Galerie Saint Laurent. “But it is art,” he said “and I will willingly exhibit all of it.” “Agreed,” I replied. If I sell something he takes 30%. It seems these are the usual conditions, some galleries take 75%. What is it? In fact, objects.

Francesca: When I hear this text, the word “insincere” always stands out to me: I think, for Broodthaers, sincerity implies art that’s elevated in some way—that’s transcendental or expressive of some deeper truth. Broodthaers points out that artworks are simply objects that can be bought and sold—a pretty radical claim for the time.