Marcel Broodthaers doesn't have the most usual story in the world of art.
While today the Internet seems to put more pressure on artists to succeed and make an impact at a young age, Broodthaers didn't get into his true calling - or at least his most commercially successful one - until he was 40 years old. He started out as a poet for 20 years, but it didn't work out well for him. It seemed unfortunate to him at the time, but fortunately for the rest of us it allowed him to move into a new field.
It was 1964 when he fully switched from poetry into visual arts. At Broodthaers' first showcase he marked the transition by taking a bunch of his copies of what was his most recent poetry book at the time, and combined them together in plaster for a sculpture piece. This is an example of a characteristic of Broodthaers work where he would constantly just use what he had around him - whether it be the aforementioned poetry books, wine bottles, buckets, magazine clippings or tons of other objects most people would never give second thought to be considered art. He would find a way to bring them together or put them in a new context.
Over the next twelve years of his time in his newfound creative era, before he passed away in 1976, Broodthaers would work across painting, film, and printmaking as well.
He even opened his own museum from '68-'72, entitled the Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles that was a traveling museum. It was more than just a place to show his work, it was also a statement about the responsibility and status of museums in general. It ended up being one of his most well-known and successful ideas.
The age at which he made his transition, 40, is an important number for another reason as well. Today in 2016, 40 years after he passed away in 1976, MOMA is doing a retrospective of his work. On display will be over 200 works from Broodthaers across all the different mediums. It just opened and will be up for only a few month period (through May 15), so why not check it off your list early and see it in March.
More information can be found on MOMA's website.