La Signature. Série 1. Tirage illimité, 1969

The Signature. 1st Series. Unlimited edition, 1969
Graphic material, 54.5 x 73.5 cm

Marcel Broodthaers might have passed into the history of art as a worthy heir to the surrealist ideas of Marcel Duchamp and René Magritte had he not asked himself – among many other things – exactly what art was, and then taken his conclusions to the ultimate consequences. As a result, he became one of the leading figures in 20th century art.

He produced twenty-six editions of graphic work between 1964 and 1975, and from 1957 to 1975 published twenty-one books. The complete set of Broodthaers’ serial work is a collection of exceptional importance as it contains all the registers present throughout his artistic production. His graphic pieces, book publications and films are not only a representative element of his artistic creation but also mediums that enable him to exploit the characteristics of reproducibility and thus increase the impact of his work.

Michael Compton

Broodthaers's other main groups of multiple works, the books and prints, are extremely heterogeneous in their use of the medium and in their poetic devices [...] His prints are explicitly "editions" rather than "gravures" or "empreintes". Many were published by galleries, presumably, as a cheaper and more saleable form of art, as have been many artist prints. This was a period in which the multiple was promoted as a means of democratization of art. But, like other artists, he followed the practice of valorizing limited editions of technically indefinite print runs by the device of manuscript enhancement. That is he played out the game, just as he did in book publication. The situation, too, is indicated by a tautology: La Signature, published by himself during the period he was maintaining his own museum, comprises 153 of his signatures, lithographed with each sheet signed in pencil, but issued in an unlimited edition.

His first print is both tautology and contradiction, referring even more directly to the artist – gallery nexus. La La Faute d'ortographe takes as its starting point the gallery's announcement of its own publication, in which his name had been wrongly spelt. The fact that until he became very well known (and even after), people continually misspelt his name in a variety of ways was a source of great amusement to him. It added piquancy to his tautologies and offered a vehicle for his constant themes of teaching and correcting, designation and (apparent) misdesignation. Here he crosses out the names of all the other artists whose names are correctly spelt, gives his own name with the proper autography, adds his first name altering the last letter, ‘t', find it too large, crosses it out and does it again smaller. The corrections, whether of the original proof or of his own corrections do not serve their conventional purpose, which is to vanish after use (being metalanguage) but become the print itself.

Broodthaers often make use of constructed errors so it is possible to see them even where they may not have been intended to be significant. Comparison of the plan of the principal floor of the house in the Rue de la Pepiniere which had housed his Museum in the print Musée-Museum with the reconstruction of half of it in the Salle Blanche shows that the former, though plausible, is wrong; but he did not make the correction. The conventional abbreviation "rat." is glossed in the print Tractatus Logico-Catologicus as "ratures" (deletions). Can it be the solution of the caption-title to the shadow image of a cat, in another print, La Souris écrit rat? Has the cat rubbed out a mouse? All of Broodthaers's prints prompt such conjectures, but he made sure not to provide answers. That is not the work of an artist, but of the viewer.

Technical details

Original title:
La Signature. Série 1. Tirage illimité
Registration number:
Broodthaers, Marcel
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Graphic material
Screen print on paper
54.5 x 73.5 cm (height x width)
Edition number:
Edició de 60
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© Estate of Marcel Broodthaers, VEGAP, Barcelona
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.

If you need a high resolution image of the work, you must submit an image loan request.