MK Gallery presented the most comprehensive exhibition in the UK by renowned Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924–1976) since his Tate Gallery retrospective in 1980.
Broodthaers was a poet, photographer, filmmaker and artist and throughout his career challenged the role of the artwork, the artist and the art institution. Considered to be one of the most important artists of the last century, Broodthaers' work and thinking is highly influential on many artists working today.
This exhibition explored the diversity of Broodthaers' practice including books, editions, objects, projections and paintings and features several works never seen in the UK before. His first 'artwork', Pense Bête, 1964, addresses his enduring concerns about form and language and the construction of meaning. Also being shown is Miroir d'Epoque Regency, 1973 from arguably the artist's most significant passage of work Museum d'Art Moderne, Département d'Aigles. This comprised twelve different 'sections' and was founded with the 19th century section in his Brussels house in 1968. The mirror reflects the gallery and viewer back on themselves, questioning the role of the institution and the visitor within it.
The exhibition also included examples of his renowned shell works – mussels and eggs – as in Grande Casserole de Moules, 1966 and 289 Coquilles d'Oeufs, 1966. The egg and mussel shell become a recurrent symbol in Broodthaers' work as a means of questioning the social function of the artwork. With characteristic wit and insight Broodthaers announced 'Everything is eggs. The world is eggs'.
Exhibition supported by SMAK, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; Eurostar; The Henry Moore Foundation and the Broodthaers Estate