Marcel Broodthaers - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York

  • Literature

    F. de Vree, Marcel Broodthaers, oevres 1963-1975, Brussels, 1990, pp. 188-189
    D. Zwirner, Marcel Broodthaers, Die Bilder die Worte die Dinge, Cologne, 1997, p.146

  • Catalogue Essay

    'The subject is denied by its use as the operational means for the conquest of space.' - Marcel Broodthaers

    'My aim is to change the signs for the reading of a poem…to show the extent to which the word is carried by the form.' (M. Broodthaers, Actualité d’un bilan (News of a Balance Sheet), Paris, 1972). Abbildung consists of nine canvases that Marcel Broodthaers painted in 1973 to question the relationship between art and the reality it portrays. Stemming from a lasting impression with the work of Belgian Surrealist René Magritte, Broodthaers’ work was specifically influenced by works where Magritte introduced text to contradict a visual image, consequently making several paintings and prints based on this idea. In fact, it was Magritte who had given Broodthaers a copy of Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés which became a crucial source of inspiration for the artist.

    The present lot defines not only its medium, but also its subject matter. The composition, while denying traditional artistic conventions, can be directly read as the structural analysis of the painting. This results in the viewer being left to discover for themselves an association between the elements of the composition – one that is inherently subject to infinite change. Acting on the balance between illusion and the reality of artistic representation, Abbildung puts into question the suppositions of pictorial meaning.

    Broodthaers' exploration in the ways in which the viewer relates with an artwork and with the notions of art itself, reveal the significant influence of Magritte’s principles on his work. What inspired Broodthaers in particular was the way in which Magritte used words to undermine the assumptions associated with images. Broodthaers stated, ‘Magritte denies the aesthetic nature of painting…he continues to elaborate a poetic language aimed at undermining that upon which we depend’. (M. Broodthaers, ‘Gare au Defi! Pop Art, Jim Dine, and the Influence of René Magritte’, trans. by Paul Schmidt, October, no.42, Fall 1987, p.34.) The correlation between words and images is the foundation for Broodthaers' Abbildung, a work in which images are removed entirely and the formal components of the composition are reduced to text, which highlight the degree of artifice involved in any form of artistic representation. Here the influence of Mallarmé reveals itself, as the French poet’s work consisted of unconventionally arranged words on a page. Thus, Abbildung recalls Mallarmé’s relationship between illusion and representation, his experimental layout and his exploration of the poetry of empty space. It challenges the beliefs that the meaning and feeling attached to a word is in part determined by its visual presentation on a page or any kind of surface. For Broodthaers, art was not about negotiating space, but material forms and the framework within which they exist.



typographic impressions on canvas (in 9 parts)
each framed (i) 78.7 x 100.5 cm. (30 7/8 x 39 5/8 in.), (ii)-(ix) 80.9 x 101.3 cm. (31 7/8 x 39 7/8 in.)

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £218,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art Department
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 27 June 2013 7pm