Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective

*Miroir d’époque régence (Regency mirror)*

Marcel Broodthaers. Miroir d’époque régence (Regency mirror). 1973 66301

Marcel Broodthaers (Belgian, 1924–1976). Miroir d’époque régence (Regency mirror). 1973. Convex mirror in gilded wood frame, 55 7/8 × 30 7/16 × 20 1/2″ (142 × 77.3 × 52 cm). Collection S.M.A.K., Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium. Photo: Dirk Pauwels/SMAK. © 2016 Estate of Marcel Broodthaers/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SABAM, Brussels

Francesca: In the 1970s, Broodthaers organized a series of retrospectives of his own work and included this mirror.

Broodthaers, Christophe Cherix: There is a mirror mounted with an eagle—a late eighteenth-century antique— which belongs to a museum association in Ghent. An official mirror, if one can call it that, which reflects the virtual image of those eagles whose multiple heads recount the History of arms, the viewpoint of Art. This is the mirror of reversed direction. Even though Jupiter's messenger perches on top, it is a trick mirror.

Francesca: It functions as a kind of tool: allowing you to see yourself looking at art.

It also shows the artist thinking about the passage of time. When you look in the mirror, you see Broodthaers’s work reflected back. So in a way he’s collapsing time—you are in the present; the objects you see are from the past; and the mirror itself is from an even more distant past. I like to think of it as a metaphor for the retrospective tendencies in his work at the end of his career.

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