Broodthaers was born in Brussels and had a varied early career, being, amongst other things, a book-dealer and poet. He began making art objects as an experiment when he was forty years old, partly through feeling that art might be a better way to make money than selling books. Broodthaers was on the fringes of the Belgian surrealist group and became friendly with Magritte. A pioneering conceptual artist, Broodthaers shared Duchamp's ironic, self-questioning stance and practice of addressing his art to the mind rather than the eye. Much of Broodthaers's later work was concerned with questioning the nature of the art museum and with the relationship between language, art and money.