Details & Cataloguing



Marcel Broodthaers
1924 - 1976
(i) titled and inscribed Livre I; signed with the initials, dated Bruxelles 67 and numbered 15/40  on a label inside of the portfolio
(iii),(v) signed with the artist's initials and numbered 15/40 on the reverse
(vi),(viii) signed with the artist's initials and numbered 15/40
(iv) printed signature, title and date Bruxelles Belgium 1967 and inscription on a label affixed to the surface
(ix) signed with the artist's initials, titled and numbered 15/40
(i) cardboard portfolio
(ii) printed canvas and panel
(iii) printed paper collage on off-set lithograph on cardboard
(iv) film reel in metallic container
(v) off-set lithograph on cardboard
(vi),(viii)-(ix) printed canvas on cardboard
(vii) printed screen and painted wood

(i) 80 by 60 cm; 31 ½ by 23  5/8  in.
(ii) 61 x 81 x 4,3; 24  x 31  7/8  x 1  11/16  in.
(iii),(v) 56 x 76 cm; 22  1/16  x 29  15/16  in.
(iv) diameter: 18,2 cm; 7  3/16  in.
(vi),(viii) 76 x 54 cm ; 29  15/16  x 21  ¼  in.
(viii) 95 x 130 cm; 37  7/16  x 51  3/16  in.
(ix) 54 x 76 cm; 21  ¼  x 29  15/16  in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Conceived in 1967 and edited by Wide White Space Gallery in Antwerp, this work is from an edition of 40. Seven are numbered 1-7 and were produced in 1968 and presented in a wooden box; and 33, numbered 8-40 were produced in 1972 in a cardboard portfolio.


Wide White Space Gallery, Antwerp
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

All at once poet, bibliophile, photographer, art critic and lecturer, Marcel Broodthaers truly established himself in the art world in 1964, at the age of 40, with work-objects along the line of New Realism. In addition, the relationship between word and image has been crucial in Broodthaers's work, which owes a great deal to surrealist artist René Magritte -whom he knew well- as well as writers like Mallarmé, Baudelaire, Lautréamont and La Fontaine.

It was precisely while working on an edition work and a film inspired by Magritte that Broodthaers started The Crow and the Fox (1967), which first version was exhibited in March 1968, and the second in 1972, at the Wide White Space Gallery in Antwerp: "I have used La Fontaine's fable and transformed it into what I call a personal writing (poetry). I have associated daily objects (boots, telephone, bottle of milk) to the text, which purpose is to closely interact with the printed letters. It is also an attempt to deny as much as possible the meaning of the word as well as of the image" (Marcel Broodthaers interview, in Trépied, Brussels, N°2, February 1968, pp. 4-5).

To create greater confusion and allow a wider range of interpretations, Broodthaers projected the movie on screens also covered with text, of which he designed two different format versions, along with fragments of his poems. The first version of this edition installation consisted of two screens, a wooden box lined with photographic canvas containing the movie, two sticks and other numbered prints on cardboard (Anny De Decker, Le Corbeau et le Renard, in Marcel Broodthaers, Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, December 17, 1991 – March 1, 1992, p. 120) and photographic canvas. For the opening, "Broodthaers had invited musician friends who played Bach and Vivaldi, which gave a sort of classical and solemn atmosphere to the event, rather unusual in avant-garde galleries"[2]. Because of their high production cost, there were only seven boxes made instead of the 40 originally planned, although Broodthaers proposed to produce the film and screens in a limited edition.  

Afterwards, Broodthaers designed a cardboard folder illustrated with La Fontaine's portrait to gather the canvases and cardboards made for the most part in 1968 –he however changed one of the cardboards, separated two photographic canvases, and replaced the felt illustrated with a mussel dish with a photographic canvas representing himself writing La Fontaine's poem (a variation of a unique work from 1968 presented with a typing machine today kept at the Centre Pompidou with the inventory number AM 1985-188). There are therefore 40 copies of this edition numbered 1 to 7 with box, and 8 to 40 with cardboard folder, among which is the edition 15/40 we are presenting here.

The Crow and the Fox by Marcel Broodthaers is a very rare work, as most editions are kept in museums today. As a unique edition piece intertwining various artistic disciplines, it represents a turning point in the artist's career. The reoccurrence of a few favorite objects like mussels and fries somehow marks their last appearance as well as the transition toward of a new field of research weaving "in the same approach, poetry, artistic creation and cinema". (Michel Draguet, Mallarmé 'FIG. 0' : pièces pour une filiation Magritte-Broodthaers, Magritte, Broodthaers & l'Art contemporain, Brussels, Ludion/ Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, October 13, 2017 –February 18, 2018, p. 45.)