Marcel Broodthaers was born on January 28, 1924, in Brussels. He began his career in poetry, film and journalism. His artistic breakthrough came in 1964, when he embedded 50 copies of his book Pense-Bête in plaster after the book had sold poorly. This symbolic act came to be his first art object and the beginning of his artistic career.
Broodthaers is considered a forebear of installation art and institutional critique. In 1968, he created his own museum as a way to direct criticism at the museum as an institution, and to be able to examine the strategies of the art market as part of his artistry. Broodthaers looked up to René Magritte and his method of using both words and pictures in his work. He therefore began to create assemblage art out of collage and found objects that he connected with written words. Broodthaers wanted to penetrate the visual culture of the 1960s and reveal the underlying structures in his art. The culture’s prevalence and growing dominance thus became a central theme of his work. He was never particularly successful as a poet, which he saw as a failure, and he wove these thoughts into his work. By making art out of cheap, simple objects like eggshells, he easily raised the status of such objects to art, simply by signing them. As part of the work, he reflects back to the viewer with the question: if you didn’t want to read my writing, why do you want to look at my art? Marcel Broodthaers died in Cologne on January 28, 1976.