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Indepth Arts News:

"Decor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers"
2007-07-17 until 2007-09-15
Michael Werner Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to present Decor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers, the first presentation in the United States of this legendary work. Decor: A Conquest is a groundbreaking work of art and one of the most important sculptural works of the twentieth century. It anticipates installation as a conspicuous mode of artistic expression and is daring in its use of objects to relate a narrative. With Decor: A Conquest, Marcel Broodthaers moved beyond Duchamp's ideas about the resonance of objects to focus instead on the stories those objects can tell. Marcel Broodthaers began work on Decor: A Conquest in 1974, when he was invited by Barry Barker to inaugurate London's new Institute of Contemporary Art. The artist installed two “period rooms”: one from the 19th Century, displaying a stuffed python amidst cannons, potted palms and Napoleonic candlesticks and chairs; and another from the 20th Century, with patio furniture, an unfinished puzzle depicting the Battle of Waterloo, and handguns and rifles displayed atop pedestals and shelves. Decor: A Conquest is a complex work, simultaneously exploring ideas about war, conflict, interiority and comfort.

Décor: A Conquest is the culmination of the Marcel Broodthaers' life's work, building on themes explored in earlier décors, a term the artist used to describe a number of his late works. As Marcel Broodthaers remarked, speaking of himself in the third-person: In January 1974, Marcel Broodthaers installed a conservatory in one of the rooms of the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels: a few dozen palm trees, some folding garden chairs, natural history engravings...For him, this first achievement heralded the idea for Décor: A Conquest...

Décor: A Conquest was later shown at Documenta 7 in 1982 and at the Hamburger Banhoff, Berlin in 1999.

Marcel Broodthaers (Brussels, 1924 - Cologne, 1976) is one of the most original and influential artists of the twentieth century. He worked early on as a poet and was widely published throughout Belgium by the mid 1960s. His first work as a visual artist came in 1964 and consisted of several copies of his final volume of poems, Pense-Bête, embedded in a mound of plaster. From that time, Marcel Broodthaers produced works in various media that revolved around his interest in word-play and his concept of joining word and image. It is precisely because of his deep exploration of these complex themes that Marcel Broodthaers remains a seminal figure in contemporary art, an artist on par with major figures of early conceptualism including Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni.

Marcel Broodthaers has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Walker Art Center, the Reina Sofia and the Galerie National du Jeu de Paume. A major selection of important works was included in Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect, curated by Kynaston McShine for the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1999. Marcel Broodthaers had his first exhibition with Michael Werner in Cologne in 1969. Subsequent exhibitions in the gallery presented major installations and sculptures, the artist's complete prints, and key works on paper from the sixties and seventies.

In August White Columns will screen Marcel Broodthaers' The Battle of Waterloo, which is an integral part of Décor: A Conquest. Filmed in and around Lond's ICA during the first exhibition of Décor: A Conquest, The Battle of Waterloo makes use of the installation as film setting and serves also as a document of the original installation of Décor: A Conquest. For more information, please call White Columns at (212) 924-4212 or visit whitecolumns.org.

Marcel Broodthaers
Installation View: Décor: A Conquest

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