This show also marks the first time the artist’s complete editions and books have been shown together in the United States and includes twenty artist books from 1957 – 1975, as well as twenty-six editioned works from 1964-1975.
Broodthaers’ (1924 – 1976) career as a visual artist began in 1964 after two decades working as a published poet, collector and dealer of rare books. From the age of 40 until his death in 1976, he was the subject of seventy solo exhibitions, flexibly moving across media ranging from installations, sculptures and objects to artist’s books, prints, films and writings. However, Broodthaers never truly left poetry so much as to expand its field, incessantly exploring the complex relationships between images, words, and the objects that they represent. Highlighted in the exhibition is a suite of Broodthaers’ painted vacuum-formed plastic reliefs or “Industrial Poems” originally created for his traveling museum, Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles). The museum was dedicated not to his work as an artist but rather to the role of the institution itself and the function of art in society.
Ne dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit—Le Perroquet, 1974 (Don’t Say I Didn’t Say So—The Parrot) is a compact example of Broodthaers’ iconic décors installations created during the final years of his life. In this highly distilled work, catalogues from Broodthaers’ 1966 exhibition at White Wide Space and a reprint from 1974 are displayed on a table situated alongside two potted palms and a live African gray parrot perched in a cage. A recorded loop of Broodthaers reciting his poem “Moi Je Dis Mois Je Dis Je…” plays in the background, exemplifying the artist’s interest during this period in revisiting his past work as a poet. Throughout the various mediums, the exhibition illustrates how Broodthaers’ vision remained profoundly interconnected.
The show at Paul Kasmin coincides with the artist’s first museum retrospective in New York at the Museum of Modern Art from February 14 – May 15, 2016. MoMA’s exhibition brings together some 200 works in multiple mediums, exploring the artist’s critical place in the history of 20th-century art. The exhibition will travel to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Madrid, in October 2016, and to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (KNW), Düsseldorf, in early 2017.