Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective

Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective

Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective is travelling across cultural art capitals to celebrate the long and successful career of the Belgian artist. It previously showed at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and is due to open at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf on 4 March.

Throughout the first part of his career, Broodthaers dedicated himself specifically to photography, poetry and literature. In 1964, he expanded his practice working in disciplines such as sculpture, painting and film. Adopting a radical approach to these  forms of expression, the artist developed his own unique style of non-conformity. Having a critical attitude towards contemporary art movements such as Pop Art and Minimalism, he challenged the existing art world through fictitious art displays that focused less on formal innovation and further into the function of art in society.

Created in a collaborative project between Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and The MoMA, this collection is an exhibition of exhibitions that narrates the story of the artist’s professional journey. Throughout his career, Broodthaers questioned the form of exhibitions, challenging the idea of what a museum or gallery should be, and expressing the importance of visual display. He created presentations that enabled the exhibitions to become works of art themselves, showing how objects adopt different meanings when presented in different contexts.

The touring exhibition presents a variation of displays that were compiled by the artist throughout different stages of his career, including large-scale exhibitions containing some of his early works. The exhibits for A Retrospective are some of his first experimental film and photography pieces, as well as his earliest visual art, created from mussels and eggshells. These artworks reappeared time and time again throughout his career – becoming a symbol of identity and recognition for Broodthaers.

An ornamental garden, The Exhibition Entrance 1974, opens the exhibition with a theatrical display of hanging objects and photographs. Continuing to document the life and works of the artist, the exhibition goes on to paint a full picture of Broodthaers’ career as one of the most influential international artists of his time, showing his transition from poet to visual artist whilst expressing the connection between the two mediums. Featuring a diverse collection of pieces, the gallery invites visitors to immerse themselves in a biographical display of art installations that takes them on a journey through the progressive and developmental stages of this established artist’s exploration.

Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective started at MoMA and then went to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Madrid. It is on show at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (KNW), Düsseldorf from 4 March – 11 June 2017. For more information, visit

1.  Marcel Broodthaers, White Cabinet and White Table, 1965. Courtesy of MoMA.