September 24, 2015


Broodthaers Society of America
The Human American Eagle. Camp Gordon, Atlanta, 1918.

The Broodthaers Society of America has been founded to foster a wider appreciation of Marcel Broodthaers in the context of American culture. A growing general interest in the great Belgian artist’s work in the United States raises important issues that, up to now, have been little addressed by institutions of art or academia.

As a loose cadre of fans and researchers, we love the work of Marcel Broodthaers, but we’re not interested in suffocating him with reverence. Since the release of October no. 42 in 1987, the mounting of a groundbreaking retrospective at the Walker Art Museum in 1989, and numerous blue-chip gallery shows through the past decades—by Michael Werner, Ronnie van der Velde, and Marian Goodman, to name three—a rather precious intellectual scaffolding has nearly encased his memory. This discourse seems aimed towards preserving a narrow, august view of the artist—one that, to us, is at odds with his trademark irreverence and wit.

We love the work of Marcel Broodthaers and we take it seriously. But we also joust with it, bore out its cylinders, get it wrong. When he paints the French word for “mussels,” we read “muscles” and conjure affinities between the wily, impoverished artist and well-oiled Hollywood physique magazines.

We also look at his work from the standpoint of race and racism, things that he certainly alluded to (and privileged from) in a country like Belgium but, to our knowledge, have never been addressed.

We frequently hit the reset button. We try to pick up where he left off but from the comfort of space age Warren Platner sofas and chromium etageres. We proceed as if 40 years of art, commerce, and scholarship had not transpired after his death. And we look at Broodthaers’ work now, in the present and going forward. If there are any aspects of his work that are still capable of being in play, then it is our responsibility to discover them and reshape them. Come join us.

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