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Hardcover | $36.95 Trade | £25.95 | ISBN: 9780262014502 | 400 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 46 b&w illus.| September 2010
 
Paperback | $28.95 Trade | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780262525091 | 400 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 46 b&w illus.| September 2013
 

The Absence of Work

Marcel Broodthaers, 1964–1976

Overview

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 language. By showing us the ways in which language is instrumentalized across society—used for its efficiency despite the complexities it introduces into communication—Broodthaers shows us how we imagine language to work and points us to its hidden operations.

Haidu's characterization of Broodthaers's contribution to institutional critique represents a major departure from the usual approach to this movement. Considering the wider political implications of his work, including its reflections on national identity and democracy, she explores how they derive from historical references and examines his work's relationships to the works of other contemporary artists. 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.

About the Author

Rachel Haidu is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester.

Table of Contents

  • The Absence of Work
  • OCTOBER Books
  • George Baker, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Leah Dickerman, Hal Foster, Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss, Annette Michelson, Mignon Nixon, Malcolm Turvey, editors
  • Broodthaers
  • edited by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
  • AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism
  • edited by Douglas Crimp
  • Aberrations: An Essay on the Legend of Forms
  • by Jurgis Baltrušaitis
  • Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille
  • by Denis Hollier
  • Painting as Model
  • by Yve-Alain Bois
  • The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents
  • edited by Clara Weyergraf-Serra and Martha Buskirk
  • The Woman in Question
  • edited by Parveen Adams and Elizabeth Cowie
  • Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century
  • by Jonathan Crary
  • The Subjectivity Effect in Western Literary Tradition: Essays toward the Release of Shakespeare’s Will
  • by Joel Fineman
  • Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture
  • by Slavoj Žižek
  • Cinema, Censorship, and the State: The Writings of Nagisa Oshima
  • by Nagisa Oshima
  • The Optical Unconscious
  • by Rosalind E. Krauss
  • Gesture and Speech
  • by André Leroi-Gourhan
  • Compulsive Beauty
  • by Hal Foster
  • Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris
  • by Robert Morris
  • Read My Desire: Lacan against the Historicists
  • by Joan Copjec
  • Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture
  • by Kristin Ross
  • Kant after Duchamp
  • by Thierry de Duve
  • The Duchamp Effect
  • edited by Martha Buskirk and Mignon Nixon
  • The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century
  • by Hal Foster
  • October: The Second Decade, 1986–1996
  • edited by Rosalind Krauss, Annette Michelson, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Hal Foster, Denis Hollier, and Silvia Kolbowski
  • Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910–1941
  • by David Joselit
  • Caravaggio’s Secrets
  • by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit
  • Scenes in a Library: Reading the Photograph in the Book, 1843–1875
  • by Carol Armstrong
  • Bachelors
  • by Rosalind Krauss
  • Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975
  • by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
  • Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture
  • by Jonathan Crary
  • Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages
  • by Ed Ruscha
  • Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents
  • edited by Tom McDonough
  • Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde
  • by Branden W. Joseph
  • Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings, 1975–2001
  • by Martha Rosler
  • Prosthetic Gods
  • by Hal Foster
  • Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art
  • by Mignon Nixon
  • Women Artists at the Millennium
  • edited by Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher
  • “The Beautiful Language of My Century”: Reinventing the Language of Contestation in Postwar France, 1945–1968
  • by Tom McDonough
  • The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris
  • by George Baker
  • Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s
  • by Carrie Lambert-Beatty
  • Robert Ryman: Used Paint
  • by Suzanne P. Hudson
  • Hall of Mirrors: Roy Lichtenstein and the Face of Painting in the 1960s
  • by Graham Bader
  • Perpetual Inventory
  • by Rosalind Krauss
  • The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964–1976
  • by Rachel Haidu
  • The Absence of Work
  • Marcel Broodthaers, 1964–1976
  • Rachel Haidu
  • An OCTOBER Book
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email special_sales@mitpress.mit.edu or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Bembo by Graphic Composotion, Inc. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Haidu, Rachel.
  • The absence of work : Marcel Broodthaers, 1964–1976 / Rachel Haidu.
  •  p. cm.—(October books)
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01450-2 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Broodthaers, Marcel—Criticism and interpretation. I. Title. II. Title: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964–1976.
  • N6973.B66H35 2010
  • 709.2—dc22
  • 2009054142
  • {Comp: Set above line flush right}
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • For Alexander and Isadora
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1 Identity and Wit
  • Moi aussi je me suis demandé si je ne pouvais pas vendre quelque chose . . .
  •  , Galerie Saint-Laurent, Brussels, 1964
  • Moules Œufs Frites Pots Charbon
  • , Wide White Space, Antwerp, May 26– June 26, 1966
  • 2 Reading Art
  • Pense-Bête
  • , 1964
  • Exposition littéraire autour de Mallarmé: Marcel Broodthaers à la Deblioudebliou/S
  • , Wide White Space, December 2–20, 1969
  • 3 Speech and Politics
  • Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Section XIXe siècle
  • , 30, rue de la Pepinière, Brussels, September 27, 1968
  • Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Section Littéraire
  • , Brussels, Antwerp, Köln, Düsseldorf, etc., 1968–1971
  • 4 History
  • Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Section des Figures
  • :
  • Der Adler vom Oligozän bis heute
  • , Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, May 16–July 9, 1972
  • Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Section Publicité
  • , Neue Galerie,
  • Documenta
  • V, Kassel, June 30–October 8, 1972
  • 5 Private and Public
  • Un Jardin d’Hiver
  • , second version, in
  • Catalogue-Catalogus
  • ,
  • Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, September 27–November 3, 1974
  • Un Jardin d’Hiver
  • , first version, in
  • Carl Andre, Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren, Victor Burgin, Gilbert & George, On Kawara, Richard Long, Gerhard Richter
  • , Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
  • ,
  • January 9, 1974–February 3, 1974
  • Conclusion
  • Décor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers
  • , Institute of Contemporary Art, London, June 11–July 6, 1975
  • Notes
  • Index

Endorsements

"The Absence of Work is a fascinating study of one of the foremost artists of the postwar period. Haidu's brilliant analysis of Broodthaers's career illuminates his far-reaching aesthetic strategies and innovative methods. This book places him in the context of contemporary art history with insightful reference to modernist and postmodernist thought. Impressive, intelligent, and inspired, it sets forth the artist's role as a progenitor of installation art and institutional critique."
Anne Rorimer, author of New Art in the 60s and 70s: Redefining Reality

"Rachel Haidu's rigorous study of Marcel Broodthaers returns this pivotal artist to the center of debates on institutional critique. Providing new insights on Broodthaers's practice from multiple vantage points, The Absence of Work is intellectually sophisticated and historically precise, demonstrating how the artist, his work, and its publics were formed across discursive institutional contexts."
Kirsi Peltom