Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective

*Un jardin d’hiver II*

Marcel Broodthaers. Un jardin d’hiver II 6620

Marcel Broodthaers (Belgian, 1924–1976). Un jardin d’hiver II (A winter garden II). 1974. Six photographs of 19th-century etchings, 16 painted chairs, 30 potted palms, 16mm film projected on screen. Dimensions variable. Estate Marcel Broodthaers. © 2016 Estate of Marcel Broodthaers/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SABAM, Brussels

Francesca: Broodthaers “closed” his museum in 1972, and in the final years of his life, created immersive installations that he called “décors.”

These included several winter gardens filled with palm trees. They conjure up Europe’s colonial exploits, which formed the foundation of many art and natural history museums. And they also evoke 19th century ideas about domesticating nature.

Broodthaers, Christophe Cherix: There is indeed imagery from the 19th century here, in the sense that a winter garden corresponded to a comfortable ideal, the way of life of the 19th century bourgeoisie.

Francesca: In the film, you see Broodthaers parading a camel outside an earlier winter garden installation. So his first winter garden serves as the stage for the film which then became part of this work, the Winter Garden II. Broodthaers loved to work in this kind of self-contained, self-referential manner. Just think about his favorite symbols--the egg and the mussel--they too are enclosed and self-sustaining.

It’s funny to consider that Broodthaers was exhibiting this work in 1974. While he was emulating the 19th century, his peers were producing Pop art and sleek minimalist sculpture.

Broodthaers, Christophe: To get around in art, to function as an artist, I think there is one rule: you have to be dressed in the fashion of your time. That doesn’t mean that I agree with fashion, of course! Still this needs to be made clear to the listener who may at times be duped, in his life, into thinking that fashion is the truth.

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