April 27, 2018 - S.M.A.K. - Marcel Broodthaers: Broodthaerskabinet
April 27, 2018


Marcel Broodthaers, Le Pense-Bête, 1964. Books, paper, plaster, plastic ball, wood. S.M.A.K., Ghent – Collection Flemish Community.

Marcel Broodthaers
March 10, 2018

Jan Hoetplein 1
9000 Ghent
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 5:30pm–9:30am,
Saturday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +32 9 323 60 01


The Broodthaerskabinet is a space in the S.M.A.K. for the permanent presentation of the works, editions, books and archive pieces of Marcel Broodthaers (1924-76) that are held in the museum’s collection. Broodthaers made his name as one of the most influential figures in 20th century art. During his lifetime, the impact of his artistic practice was not only felt in his own country. He soon made his international breakthrough with work that forms a lasting legacy.

Marcel Broodthaers’ career as an artist began with Le Pense-Bête (1964), considered as the pivotal point between his life as a poet and as an artist. By setting a number of unsold copies of his last poetry book in plaster, Broodthaers nearly made it impossible to read them. This signaled the genesis of an "object," which, to his great surprise, as an art object, elicited much more interest than the poems themselves ever did. Broodthaers referred to Le Pense-Bête as his first "proposition artistique," his first act as a visual artist. In 2006, with the support of the Flemish Community, the S.M.A.K. purchased this emblematic sculpture, which made it the owner of the most substantial Broodthaers collection in any Belgian institution.

It would be hard to overrate the role Marcel Broodthaers played when it comes to thinking about art, its institutions, function and history. His oeuvre offers an excellent poetic-critical reflection on the meaning of art and its context. On the occasion of the acquisition of Le Pense-Bête, the S.M.A.K. decided to spatially express the importance of Marcel Broodthaers’ oeuvre for its collection and as a starting point for institutional self-reflection. Since March 2018, the museum provides a long-term location for the project: the Broodhaerskabinet.

The Broodthaerskabinet was realised in close collaboration with Maria Gilissen-Broodthaers.

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