Saturday, 24 December 2011

Unzipped Humanities: Learn about - Marcel Broodthaers

Welcome to the collection of The National Museum of Art, Osaka.

This post is about Marcel Broodthaers, a Belgian poet who has most probably lived terrified by the idea that he would die in poverty muttering chaotically from Mallarme, never, will never, if, as if, it was, it would be, nothing, perhaps, the number... He was a dreamer like many of us. And his poems did not sell.

This is a tale of artistic survival and intelligent choices for dreamers. From 1963.

When you feel life so intensely that you can almost 

breathe words,

you might sadly have to admit that 
you were born in the wrong era,

then cut all words out,
embed them in plaster,
and exhibit,

so that you can survive.

in other words

...if you have no voice: SCREAM;
...if you have no legs: RUN;
...if you have no hope: INVENT.

Alegria, Cirque du Soleil (Sydney, 2001)
 tassiocoimbra1's uploaded video

Welcome to the museum's collection:

Marcel BROODTHAERS La signature Serie 1. Tirage illimite. (1969)

We do not sign these posts in order to control online exposure. We fancy you trying to enjoy the texts and the images and that thought makes us feel very pleased. Yet by not signing these posts, their value drops. Marcel Broodthaers created a number of signature-style artworks. Simple branding strategy.

We have been working on La signature Serie 1. Tirage illimite, for the collection catalogue.

collecting data

capturing the shadows

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Marcel Broodthaers (28 January 1924- 28 January 1976) was born in Belgium, and lived in Bruxelles, Paris, Dusseldorf, London, Berlin. Broodthaers studied chemistry in Bruxelles, then devoted himself to writing poetry. In 1957 he published his first volume of poems Mon livre d’Ogre, made his first film Le clef de l’horloge. Un Poeme Cinematographique en honneur de Kurt Schwitters.

Marcel Broodthaers, Mon livre d'ogre (1957)

Unsuccessful as a poet, in 1963 Broodthaers turned to visual arts. He embedded the unsold, still partly wrapped copies of Pense-Bete, his forth and last volume of poetry, in plaster, and exhibited them as a sculpture. Installation, if you please.

Marcel Broodthaers, Pense-Bête (1964)
© Frieze Magazine

He had his first exhibition in 1964 in Bruxelles, won the Jeune Sculpture Belge award and had some other seventy solo exhibitions in the following 11 years. His main references are Magritte, Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire, Mallarme, Rimbaud. Many of his “poem-works” seem to celebrate his favourite poem, Mallarme’s Un coup de des jamais n’abolira le hasard. He died in Koln.

Stephane Mallarme's Un coup de des jamais n’abolira le hasard (1897) is an extraordinary piece of writing and is available online for your kind reference.

A.S.Kline uploaded the French original and the English translation in 2007 here.
Sumio Akiyama made a very good Japanese translation in 1966. Enjoy the poetic typography in all languages.

Un coup de des, French original

Un coup de des, in Sumio Akiyama's Japanese translation (1966)

Un coup de des, in A.S. Kline's English translation (2007)

Un coup de des, by Marcel Broodthaers
(published on the occasion of the Exposition Littéraire autour de Mallarmé show
Wide White Space Gallery, Antwerp1969) 


Curatorial night beat @ The Bosa Bosa Review
with La signature Serie 1. Tirage illimite. (1969)

La signature Serie 1. Tirage illimite. is a signature-style artwork from 1969 (silk screen on tracing paper, 53.5x73.5cm. Courtesy The National Museum of Art, Osaka) showing the artist’s “M.B.” initials in the classical Pop art style, as a series of repetitive representations of goods in a consumer society. The initials “M.B.”are replacing the content of the work with a nominalization. The “subject” of the work is the “signature” itself, the name of the author, therefore what really matters is not the author but the authorship (obviously~).

Being the “subject” of the work, the “authorship” is also seen as “object” of the art market and institutional systems. Broodthaers criticises the art market and makes an artwork he eventually sells on the art market. Like most criticisms, Broodthaers’ work becomes precisely what it initially criticised. La Signature Serie I has been created the very same year Foucault has published his essay What is an author?, which has become an essential reading on the topic of “authorship”. The author is seen by Foucault as a mere function attracting the empty assumptions and academic convictions governing the production, circulation and consumption of texts. The author is indeed dispensable, he could disappear and if he did, his disappearance would curiously not affect the work in any way. The subject of the work as independent from its author had been previously challenged by Roland Barthes’ essay The Death of the Author (1967)

MB MB MB, Poeme. Partie I and Poeme. Partie II. are two other examples of signature-works by Broodthaers.

MB.MB.MB. (1968)
Courtesy Michael Werner, New York
from Flash Art XLIV, No 276, Jan-Feb 2011, pp 74-75

MB MB MB, is an earlier signature-style artwork from 1968 (oil, enamel on canvas, 65x115cm. Courtesy Michael Werner, New York) showing the artist’s initials “M.B.” scrawled in subtle gradations of colour from dark red to light pink, on a black picture plane.

Poeme. Partie I.      Poeme. Partie II.  (1973)
Courtesy Communaute francaise de Belgique

Poeme. Partie I and Poeme. Partie II are two signature-style works from 1973 (silk screen on paper, 97.5x67.5cm. Courtesy Communaute francaise de Belgique). In the first work showing “Gedicht. Poem. Poeme” as a header, the author’s initials “M.B.” are used repetitively and symmetrically in blocks on the page where they replace the verse expected in a poem. Broodthaers even counts the frequency of the “M.B.” initials for each block and writes the frequency number as a “value-number”.

Whether comic or tragic, classic or surrealist, the possible content of the poem, the text itself has no value, the value of a work, its “price” is a number decided by something else than the content: the name. The second work showing “Change. Exchange. Wechsel” as a header, will present the initials “M.B.” repetitive and symmetrical in columns where they become an opportunity for the exchange of numbers and foreign currencies into one another. The power of words. Ironical for a failed poet, is it not?

Useful French-Japanese-English glossary

Marcel BROODTHAERS, “La signature Serie 1. Tirage illimite” 
マルセル・ブロータース  『署名、シリーズ I
”The Signature I. Unlimited Edition”

“Mon livre d’Ogre”
"My Ogre Book"

“Le clef de l’horloge.  Un poeme Cinematographique en l'honneur de Kurt Schwitters”
"The Key to the Clock. A cinematographic poem in honour of Kurt Schwitters"


Stephane Mallarme “Un coup de des jamais n’abolira le hasard”
 "A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance"

“Poeme. Partie I” , “Poeme. Partie II”
"Poem I", "Poem II"

Related links

You might consider Marcel's works in the Tate Collection :

the showing at Milton Keys Gallery (UK) and Martin Herbert's Frieze article (2008) :

Exhibition at Milton Keys Gallery, UK

the film-installation at Marian Goodman Gallery (New York) and Media Farzin's Art Agenda article (2010) :

Installation © Marian Goodman Gallery, NY

the MoMA Collection :

Marcel Broodthaers, White Cabinet and White Table
from the MoMA collection page

Le Corbeau et le Renard film (1967) on youtube :

film uploaded on youtube by NegativeWisper on 29 Dec 2009


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Art in Ancient Egypt

We have added a new section: Egyptian Art.

And it is all because of the yellow man at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, whom we mentioned in a previous post.

The Bosa Bosa Review is simply mad about Ancient Egypt. We had the chance to work with some of the best scholars in the field. Thank you John Tait for taking us to The British Museum's (hidden) collection. This essay has been written and submitted to Turnitin, the plagiarism-detection service (sorry, chaps!).

You are free to see (Met, that won't do, you've got to hire me !)

The Bosa Bosa Review is sharing with you its knowledge and passion for dreaming~

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Entertainment: Advice to a Young Curator

Now for your pure enjoyment, this was posted by a "newspaper man" curating in Athens, on his blog named The Trap. On the sensitive subject of How to do fine in the world of art organisations


Read a lot of post-structuralism, preferably in the form of quotations you can find in catalogue essays. Quote them in turn, profusely, making sure their relationship to any actual artwork remains obscure.

No studying anything before the 1960s is allowed. Learn all your history through contemporary art theory.

Never say you are anything more than a facilitator for artists. If inadvertently you do, and you momentarily appear like having anything remotely resembling a vision or, worse, an agenda, cover it up quickly with a phrase like “curators have to stand firm against the voracity of the market”.

Be as immaterial as possible, be a ghost. Support everything anti-spectacular and insubstantial. When asked to describe it, use words like interventional, process-based, archaeological, investigative. If challenged with something like the inability of others to see the point, call them antiquated and formalist and declare the work of art to be changing (...)

Read the whole post here.

The most important curatorial lesson I have learnt by now is that when dragging the Google Street yellow figure onto The Metropolitan Museum of Art zone, you actually get inside the galleries and have visual access to Egyptian reliefs (thank you, Google Art Project !) 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Behind the scenes: Upcoming 35th Anniversary exhibition, NMAO Osaka

This is about the making of the Collection Catalogue. About the pencils, the scissors and the glue.

2012 NMAO Catalogue work in progress

©The Bosa Bosa Review 2011

The National Museum of Art Osaka (NMAO) will be celebrating its 35th anniversary with a two-month exhibition, The Allure of the Collection, opening on 21 April 2012. Around 250 works will be on display and a new catalogue will be published to assist the visitors.

All commentaries are currently being updated, and it is expected that the well versed Christopher Stevens will take on the English translation of the essays.

Inspired by Jo Mazzotta from Tate, and in general, by the world's museums' efforts to improve their transparency online, The Bosa Bosa Review will introduce its readers to a number of works from the NMAO collection.

Texts in English authored by The Bosa Bosa Review will be uploaded over the coming weeks, once the intellectual igneous differentiation is done, that is the chemical change occurring during the melting, cooling, erupting, placing, replacing of the thinking, the writing, the trimming and the copy-pasting.

So stay tuned~


More info from NMAO:

Upcoming exhibition: Yayoi KUSAMA Eternity of Eternal Eternity, 7 January- 8 April 2012.

Yayoi Kusama upcoming exhibition
 @ The National Museum of Art, Osaka

For those interested, Yayoi Kusama's works are also being exhibited at

Centre Pompidou, Paris, 10 October 2011-9 January 2012
Tate Modern, London, 9 February- 5 June 2012

Enjoy !

Thursday, 15 December 2011

One of the funniest blogs ever, written by James. Full of truths and insights to cry over while eating pizza-flavoured popcorn, drinking diet-coke and wondering why in the world did you do something like this to yourself? You know, a PhD...


The Big Tenure Lie: The Good Ones Get Jobs
We gather in a small room on the third floor of the English department. It is December and a small group of graduates and over-zealous honors students have come to hear about chances of getting a job with a Ph.D. after they spend five, six, or seven years training in the discipline.
We are, theoretically, about to hear about the employment opportunities for humanities Ph.D.‘s. I’m optimistic and ready to take some notes. Mostly, I feel arrogant as I know that half of the students in the room won’t make the tenure cut. It’s survival of the strongest. I’ve seen many of their grades and assume that my own GPA is the highest in the room. Yes, deep down, I am an ugly competitive person. Too bad for them.
In 15 minutes, this arrogance will be sucked out.

Continue reading here...

James has got lots of witty posts, totally delicious. Keep reading...

 PhD in English? What the F%$@#K! have you been doing for the last ten years?

10 Essential Non Academic Blogs To Watch in 2011

The 9 Most Useless Things I Learned At Grad School

Thanks, James. Somebody a handkerchief, please...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Kyoto Art Center - A great place to work

This is an independent art institution in the centre of Kyoto (Karasuma train station), run by a small office and dozens of volunteers. It is a great place to be in, whether as an artist, curator, or visitor.

Kyoto Art Center will launch its Artist in Residence Programme 2013 in April 2012, with two categories: performing arts and visual arts.

For those of you interested, the English blog and the Japanese blog have detailed information and photographs of events and p@rties from the 2011 programme.

The Center is currently organising Dance 4 ALL 2011 , exhibitions, talks and workshops. Check the website for more.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A glimpse of Contemporary Iranian Art

Dr Patrick Ringgenberg (University of Geneva) is one of the most promising young scholars specialising in Islamic Studies and the author of the renowned Cultural Guide to Iran (2006). With a broad expertise and an extraordinary record of publications and research, his main interest focuses on Islamic Art and Architecture, Islamic Philosophy and Religious Thought. He has recently posted on his blog, images of contemporary art on the walls of Tehran. You can see more pictures and read the article in French here.

© Patrick Ringgenberg

You can buy Patrick Ringgenberg's books from : here here here .

大おすすめ: パトリック・リンゲンバーグ 『イラン文化へのガイド』 
( The Cultural Guide to Iran ) can be found on the following websites: here here here .

Enjoy !

For more on Contemporary Iranian Art, we recommend:

Tavoos Art magazine , a bilingual (Persian-English) online magazine on the arts
Modern and Contemporary Art in Iran  article on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website (October 2004)
Iranian Art Now about the Iran Inside Out exhibition in NY, on (2009)