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A century of abstract art

Published on Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (http://www.eutrio.be)

A century of abstract art


The Ren Magritte Museum, situated in the painters house in Jette, is putting on an exhibition devoted to Belgian abstract art to coincide with the centenary of non-representational art in Europe (1910-2010). Around 40 masterpieces give a fine overview of representatives of this movement in Belgium, from the 1920s to the present day. Activities organised on the fringes of the exhibition will emphasise the exciting cross-fertilisation between these artists and other European countries. Abstract art celebrates its 100th anniversary in Europe This year, Europe celebrates the centenary of abstract art. The point of departure of the movement, which has been one of the most innovative in the history of art was a small watercolour produced by the painter Vassily Kandinsky in his studio in Germany in 1910. This work revolutionised art: no longer did painters represent the appearance of things, but rather their mysterious essence and the sensibilities of our perception of them. This humanist and innovative approach influenced many artists in Europe who suddenly abandoned figurative art to take a step into the unknown. Each European country explored abstract art in its own way through the work of avant-garde groups, the most influential of which were the German Bauhaus, the De Stijl group in Holland, the Futurist movement in Italy and Cubism in France. Later, after the Second World War, abstract art rose from the ashes after long years of silence thanks to a new generation of artists. This time the groups were less homogeneous and artists moved from one country to another in response to meetings and exhibitions. Belgium: a place to live and meet others Belgium soaked up all these influences and was an important temporary home and meeting place, particularly around Antwerp and Brussels. The legendary modesty of Belgian abstract artists has meant that they are not as well known to foreign audiences as they should have been, despite their presence at historic exhibitions and the undoubted quality of their art. Some left Belgium to make careers in other countries. Others chose to remain and contribute in silence to this pictorial revolution. More foreign artists arrived to bolster the ranks of abstract artists in Belgium. Abstract artists in the home of Ren Magritt It is often forgotten that Ren Magritte, too, was attracted to avant-garde abstract art early in his career. He began his career as a painter in the Cubist/Futurist style before embracing surrealism in 1925. With Servranckx, Peeters, Flouquet, Maes, Baugniet and a few others, he was one of the pioneers of abstract art in Belgium. This exhibition, staged in the intimacy of the home of the surrealist painter, reminds us of the close links that bound Magritte to abstract art. Through works chosen from the museums collection, this exhibition pays homage to 40 or more major artists who took part in this (r)evolution of perception in Belgium. Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm

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