How Artists like Marcel Broodthaers Can Build Buzz


Have you seen the Broodthaers exhibition at #Moma?

When it comes to building buzz, you can find inspiration in the oddest places – take Marcel Broodthaers for example.

MoMA Curator Christophe Cherix gave a private tour of amazing artist Marcel Broodthaers exhibition (Belgian, 1924–1976) who worked primarily as a poet until the age of 40, when he turned to the visual arts.

Broodthaers used interesting promotional tactics to get the word out about his art.

For example, he decided to “stop” being an artist in 1968 and become a museum director. He started to wear suits, and then invited a group of artists and journalists to see his new space, with “art” packed in crates. Now there might have been art in those crates – or not – but he created an experience.

Another interesting promotional technique was that he made an announcement he would be writing poetry outdoors. It began to “rain” (in reality, a friend was dosing him with a hose while he wrote poetry with a fountain point pen.

The message was to show people that even though the poetry could not be seen because of the rain/water, he was still a poet.


More about Marcel Broothaers

Marcel Broodthaers (Belgian, 1924–1976) worked primarily as a poet until the age of 40, when he turned to the visual arts. Over the next 12 years, his work retained a poetic quality and a sense of humor that balanced its conceptual framework; for his first solo exhibition, he encased unsold copies of his latest poetry book, Pense-Bête (Memory aid, 1964), in plaster, turning them into a sculpture. Broodthaers continued to invent ways to give material form to language while working across mediums—poetry, sculpture, painting, artist’s books, printmaking, and film. From 1968 to 1972, he operated the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles), a traveling museum dedicated not to his work as an artist but to the role of the institution itself and the function of art in society. In the final years of his life, Broodthaers created immersive “décors,” large-scale displays in which examples of his past work were often unified with objects borrowed for the occasion. This exhibition—the first Broodthaers retrospective organized in New York—will reunite key works from all aspects of his art making to underscore the complex trajectory of his career, which despite its brief duration proved enormously influential to future generations of artists.

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