Broodthaers bought a portrait of a Belgian general at a flea market then punctured the canvas and inserted a half-smoked cigar into the figure's mouth. This act of defacement demonstrates the artist's mockery of the traditions of painting, conventions already called into question by his treatment of the handmade oil painting as a ready-made object for inclusion in his own artwork. Broodthaers considered General with Cigar to be one of his most important works. It is also among his most overtly political: clothed in a military uniform and adorned with medals, badges, and insignias, the figure of the general is an embodiment of nationalism, an ideal undermined by the artist’s deadpan and slyly comical defacement.
Gallery label from 2012.