Belgian Art: 1880-1914
- Dates: April 23, 1980 through June 29, 1980
- Collections: European Art
Date unknown, 1980: Belgian Art: 1880-1914, on view at The Brooklyn Museum from April 23 to June 29, is the first comprehensive study of the rich and varied accomplishments of fin-de-siècle, pre-World War I Belgian artists to be seen in the United States. Spanning the period when Brussels was a center of international artistic activity, when the avant-garde styles of Symbolism and Neo-Impressionism flourished and fused into Art Nouveau, the exhibition surveys the achievements of these artists with more than 170 paintings, sculpture, graphic works, and decorative art pieces. Such varied artists as the fantasist James Ensor, the painter, architect, and designer Henry Van de Velde, the graphic satirist Félicien Rops, the Symbolist Fernand Khnopff, and the mystical intimist Xavier Mellery are represented, along with 40 other Belgian artists and designers.
Organized jointly by The Brooklyn Museum, the Royal Museums of Belgium, and the Ministries of Culture of the Government of Belgium, the exhibition was conceived as part of Belgium Today, a United States commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Belgian independence.
Encouraged by the relatively liberal political atmosphere of Belgium at this time, avant-garde artists’ groups, reviews, and periodicals sprang up to nurture new art in all its forms -- music, poetry, as well as the unknown or controversial works of foreign artists such as Whistler, Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Seurat. Belgium’s formidable contribution to the range and variety of antiacademic styles was embodied in the most important group of this period, Les XX (the Group of Twenty), which was foremost in making the capital city a leading center of European art. The exhibition documents the freedom and diversity of Belgian art at this period, as well as the new significance given to the role of the decorative arts. Also included will be architectural drawings by the leading Art Nouveau architect, Victor Horta, and others.
A 256-page catalogue ($13.95, 8 1/2 X 11 inches) with 255 illustrations (17 in color) will be published April 23. A symposium and series of Gallery talks and performances will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. The organizer of Belgian Art: 1880-1914 for The Brooklyn Museum is Sarah Faunce, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture.
This exhibition was made possible with the aid of grants from Count René Boël, Brussels, Belgium, and the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C., a Federal agency, and was supported by a Federal indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Date unknown, 1980: “UNVEILING THE MYSTERIES: THE SYMBOLIST PERIOD IN BELGIUM, A Symposium on the Social and Historical Context of the Avant-Garde" will inaugurate a series of public programs at The Brooklyn Museum on the occasion of its major exhibition, Belgian Art: 1880-1914 (April 23-June 29). In addition to the symposium, to be held May 2 and 3, will be a one-act play by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck (May 17) and a concert program of woodwind music that was actually performed in late 19th- and early 20th-century Belgian salons (June 22).
These programs and a series of gallery talks will examine turn-of-the-century Brussels as a significant center of international artistic activity. Amid social and economic unrest, a young generation of artists rebelled against the Academy even as socialists fought the political status quo. In inspiring creative collaboration among all the artistic disciplines, this liberal atmosphere benefited music, poetry, and drama, as well as the visual arts.
In “UNVEILING THE MYSTERIES: THE SYMBOLIST PERIOD IN BELGIUM” — on Friday, May 2, from 10 AM to 4 PM and Saturday, May 3, from 10 AM to 4 PM -- thirteen scholars and curators from Belgium and the United States will examine the social, literary, and artistic thought in Belgium during the three decades prior to World War I. Jean Buyck of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp; Linda Nochlin of Vassar College; Lieven Daenens of the Museum of Decorative Arts, Ghent; Kirk Varnedoe of Columbia University; and Gert Schiff of New York University are among the invited lecturers. The program fee is $5.00 per day, $2.50 for full-time students and senior citizens with I.D. Free to Museum members.
The Maskers, a theater troupe organized at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, will perform “THE BLIND” on Saturday, May 17 at 2 PM. Maeterlinck, a popular turn-of-the-century avant-garde playwright, changed the current of dramatic construction and theatrical presentation. In “THE BLIND,” Maeterlinck uses twelve blind characters lost in a forest to dramatize problems of human spirituality. Admission is free.
On Sunday, June 22 at 2 PM, the Chameleon Winds will perform compositions by D’Indy, Barthe, Debussy, Satie, and Grainger in the Museum’s galleries. Admission is free. The Chameleon Winds are appearing through the Hospital Audiences Project of the New York City Department of Employment, CETA title VI.
Beginning Saturday, May 10, nine talks that concern the styles and subjects of late 19th-century Belgian literature, painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and architecture will be conducted in the galleries of the exhibition. The free talks will be offered at 2 PM Sunday, May 11; Sunday, May 18; Saturday, May 31; Sunday, June 1; Saturday, June 7; Saturday, June 14; and Saturday, June 21.
Belgian Art: 1880-1914, on view April 23 - June 29, was organized jointly by The Brooklyn Museum and the Ministries of Communities of the Government of Belgium. It was made possible with the aid of grants from Count Rene Boel, Brussels, Belgium, and the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C., a Federal agency, and was supported by a Federal Indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
This exhibition is part of “Belgium Today,” a United States commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Belgian independence through exhibitions, symposia, performing arts, films, and courses on contemporary Belgium made possible by grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts and sponsored by the Belgian American Educational Foundation, Smithsonian Resident Associate Program, and the World Affairs Council of Northern California. “Belgium Today” was organized with the cooperation of the Government of Belgium.