In 1964, at age forty, Marcel Broodthaers (1924--1976)
proclaimed that his years of writing poetry -- of being "good for
nothing," in his words -- were over, and a brief but dazzling
artistic career began. Considered a founding father of
institutional critique, Broodthaers created hundreds of objects,
books, films, photographs and exhibitions, including a "fictive"
museum of modern art that evolved from an installation in his own
home to a massive exhibition of over three hundred works
representing eagles. In The Absence of Work, Rachel Haidu argues
that all of Broodthaers's art is defined by its relationship to
language. His perception of his poetry's "failure to communicate"
led him to explore in his art the noncommunicative, nontransparent
uses of words.
Haidu's characterization of Broodthaers's contribution to
institutional critique represents a major departure from the usual
approach to this movement. With "The Absence of Work," one of the
first monographs on Broodthaers in English, Haidu demystifies a
crucial and enigmatic figure in postwar and contemporary art.
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