Granary Books, 2016. Item #GB_167
8 5/8 x 11 5/8 in., 32 pp., sewn in wrappers, glassine jacket.
Pense-Bête is the fourth book of poetry by Marcel Broodthaers (1924–1976). It was written 1962–1963 and printed in an edition of 100 in Dec. 1963–Jan. 1964. Its title is a French term for a memory aid or visual reminder, such as a string tied around one’s finger, yet when pronounced it translates literally to “think beast” or “think stupid” and signals the frolicsome bestiary of poems within, a group of poems that play with the shared condition of humanity and the animal kingdom.
After selling a number of copies of Pense-Bête, Broodthaers decided to collage some of the book’s texts with a variety of rectangles and squares of colored paper. In some cases, the paper obstructs part of the poem and in others, one may lift the paper to read the text underneath.
In the spring of 1964, furthering his effort to physicalize the language of this book, Broodthaers set the last packet (50 copies) of Pense-Bête into plaster and in the process created one of the most important and influential works of his career, a decisive turn toward the concretization of language through the "plastic" or visual arts.
The Granary Books publication of Pense-Bête is a facsimile modeled on several examples of the collaged version. Elizabeth Zuba translated the poems into English in collaboration with Maria Gilissen Broodthaers; the edition was produced by Steve Clay and Diane Bertolo, printed letterpress by Philip Gallo at The Hermetic Press and bound by Judith Ivry.
This is from an edition of 100 copies, of which 75 are for sale. As new.
Pense-Bête was published on the occasion of “Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective” at The Museum of Modern Art, Feb. 14–May 15, 2016.
Pictured: cover; pp. 4–5; 14–15; and 30–31.