Artwork of the month December

Marcel Broodthaers, La signature de l’artiste, 1972

Marcel Broodthaers

*1924 in Brussels, † 1976 in Cologne

La signature de l'artiste, 1972

Address book, hat, cardboard roll, 4 jumping jacks, 3 exercise-books in showcase
Showcase: 150x80x55cm

An arrangement of objects in a showcase is entitled La signature de l'artiste (The Art- ist's Signature). Created in 1972 for Marcel Broodthaers' solo exhibition of the same name at the Karlsruhe Grafikmeyer gallery, this is one of several works that deal with the artist's signature.

By signing a work, an artist completes it, witnessing his own authorship and the authenticity of the work. But since the early twentieth century, signing has also served the purpose of declaring something to be a work of art, for example when objects from originally non-art contexts are exhibited in museums. By dint of its power of definition, the signature is thus connected with the museum institution to which the showcase, a classical exhibition fixture, refers, as only the inclusion of a (signed) artwork in a museum guarantees its recognition as art.

In this case, however, the handwritten characters of the signature are replaced by a number of objects, each alluding to the artist in its own special way: not by means of marks written by the hand that renders linguistic signs, but by putting together a number of personally selected objects to create a sculpture. This occupation with different sign systems is characteristic of Broodthaers' entire oeuvre. Having worked previously as an author and poet, he moved into visual art in 1964.

La signature de l'artiste does not do completely without linguistic devices either. Broodthaers listed the inventory of the showcase on the first page: "a) 1 Chapeau noir (1 black hat), b) 1 Tuyau vieux (1 old pipe), c) 4 petites bombes fumigènes (4 small smoke- bombs, d) 1 répertoire (1 address book)". He then summarises: "(a, b, c, d,) MB, octo- bre 72", continuing on the next line: "+ e) f) g) 3 carnets signés". Strangely duplicated, the signature recurs in the work with which it coincides.

<b>Marcel Broodthaers, La signature de l’artiste, 1972</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.