S y n e r g y
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p ublis he r
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gra p hic de s ign & a rt dire c t ion
p rint ing
Ferry Herrebrugh Amstelveen
Patrick De Rynck
Erwin vancampo studio campografico
roels printing lier
Art-A thanks Stad Antwerpen and
Cover photo ÂŠ Joost Vyncke
by Dick Graaff
Tradition and Innovation
Tradition and innovation: the strength of our society rests on their combination. And it’s no different in the Antwerp art and antiques business. This catalogue and the reason for its appearance are excellent proof of that.
Thirty-four years ago the Antwerp antique dealers’ association inaugurated the annual open-door days. Last year, we renewed that tradition: Antwerp antique galleries joined hands with galleries of modern and contemporary art and vintage design and for the first time co-organized an art weekend under the banner of ART-A. Now, in 2012, we’re seeing the second edition. The participants are all represented in this year’s catalogue.
Working together like this is bound to give the entire Antwerp art and antiques business a stronger presence, both nationally and internationally. The more there is on offer, the more attractive a city becomes for the collector of ‘old’, modern and contemporary art. Collectors are also becoming increasingly eclectic in their taste, and so have the advantage of a very varied range to choose from: old and new, European and non-European, fine and applied arts... Antwerp has all that to offer, as this year’s catalogue makes convincingly clear. We’re one of the great art cities of the world. The new partnership is therefore a definite asset for the future.
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And we’re raising our eyes still further: museums are also part of the attraction of a city like Antwerp. Many of these municipal, provincial and Flemish museums were established thanks to private initiatives and collectors. That tradition is already some five centuries old, dating back to the time when the first kunstkamers were created. Ever since, visitors to museums have been seeing beautiful objects that inspire them in their own lives. In other words, there is a close historical link between the art and antiques trade and museums, even though that’s not always sufficiently emphasized. Without art and antique dealers there would be no museums, and vice versa. In the future we want to strengthen those ‘old’ mutual ties further still, and with the same objective: to make each other better and stronger. And ultimately to offer you, as customer and visitor, a richer city that’s a pleasure to visit and where you find whatever suits your liking. Thanks in part to working together and to initiatives such as ART-A.
In short, everyone benefits. Thanks to that eternal and indestructible combination of old and new. Of tradition and innovation. I wish you great pleasure in looking and discovering!
Dick Graaff Chairman, ART-A
by Philip Heylen
Dear art-lover Antwerp is a city whose origins go back over two thousand years, to the time of Antiquity, and it’s also a city of antique dealers. Antique dealers occupy a special place in the art world and in this city in particular. In their area of expertise they have put Antwerp on the world map. Art and tradition are not opposites, but rather two sides of the same coin: a desire for beauty and durability.
Antwerp’s most famous antique dealer was a painter. His name was Rubens, and he was not only an artist but also a diplomat, manager, polyglot and extremely adroit businessman. He bought and collected objects from the classical world, not only to study them but also and especially because he had an unrivalled appreciation of their value. He brought these objects back with him from his many travels and thus forged a link between his own time and that of classical Greece and Rome. If anyone in that period embodied the word synergy, it was Rubens.
Above the portico of the Rubens House stand two figures: Athena and Mercury, Art and Commerce. It’s the collaboration between the two that has written the story of Antwerp. This story can be found in the MAS – the Museum aan de Stroom (Museum on the River), which might equally well be called a Monument to Antwerp’s Synergism. It’s hard to imagine a more symbolic spot...
Art-A has evolved from being a classic open-door-day event of international repute into real art weekends, a joint endeavour between the Antwerp antique trade and modern and contemporary art galleries. That’s not easy, but now that antique and art dealers have joined forces, in future the museums should also become part of the enterprise. I’m therefore delighted to see that during this year’s event the spotlight will be on the Middelheim Museum. Middelheim underwent a major transformation this summer, with the acquisition of a number works by leading artists enhancing its position as the most beautiful open air museum.
Antique and contemporary, trade and collection: they’re all sides of the same bright coin– that of Antwerp’s international fame.
Philip Heylen Alderman for Culture and Tourism
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◆ The Bridge Without a Name Ai Weiwei
by Menno Meeuwis
Forty Years of Biennials, Ten Years of Solo Exhibitions
Middelheim 2012 Metamorphosis of a Museum
The Middelheim Museum was founded in 1950 by the then mayor of Antwerp Lode Craeybeckx. This year, therefore, the open-air sculpture park will have been in existence for sixty-two years – a respectable age for a museum of
photo © Joris Casaer
modern and contemporary art. More than half a century, which also means that the museum has undergone a whole evolution... In 2012, another new phase began.
A Firm Foundation The basic principles remained unchanged. Firstly, to show work from the period between Rodin and the present. From the outset this proved an excellent decision, for it allowed the museum to show both modern and contemporary art and to relate them to each other. Rodin, a pioneer of modern sculpture, is a perfect starting point for this collection. A second principle from which there has been no deviation is the open air factor in an ancient park. More than fifty years on, the combination of recreational park and museum is still working successfully. Add to this the free entry, even for temporary exhibitions, which are often international in scope, and we get a very open museum, easily accessible and almost an extension of the public space. Aiming for broad accessibility has never prevented the museum from presenting high-level art. In the last decade a good, professional educational service has also been developed that provides a clear contextualization of ‘difficult’ exhibitions or individual works of art.
The museum has remained faithful to its unique starting points, but many changes have also taken place over the years. The twenty biennials that were held during the first forty years not only ensured a number of controversial exhibitions but also helped to expand the permanent collection, as works of art were purchased from each one. Lower Middelheim, the section of the park lying on the other side of Middelheimlaan, was cleared completely after every biennial. But in 1993 this changed. In 1989 the decision was taken to discontinue the biennials. Europalia Japan, held in that year, was the last. In 1993 Antwerp was to be the European Capital of Culture and it was felt that the Middelheim Museum, which over the years had perhaps lost some of its glory, was in need of renovation. It was decided to suspend the biennials and to give the stale acquisition policy a significant boost. Ten internationally famous artists were each invited to create a work for the former biennial grounds, which along with these new acquisitions for the permanent collection would become an integral part of the museum. Under the heading of ‘Nieuwe Beelden’ (‘New Sculpture’) works were bought from Per Kirkeby, Panamarenko, Juan Muñoz, Thomas Schütte, Matt Mullican and others.
◆ Het zotte geweld Rik Wouters
photo © Karin Borghouts
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photo © Joris Casaer
◆ Entrance pavilion John Körmeling
photo © Karin Borghouts
◆ Architectural installation Pedro Cabrita Reis photo © Joris Casaer
In 1994 a new exhibition programme and acquisition policy was outlined. For ten years, until 2005, the museum organized a series of solo exhibitions, with a major summer exhibition each year and smaller exhibitions in the Braem Pavilion as well. The exhibitions were always integrated with the works in the permanent collection and frequently interacted with them. Most of these solo shows were associated with the acquisition policy and they often sprang from the decision to buy a work from a particular artist. To give the museum visitor a better idea of the artist, his oeuvre and the particular sculpture that had been acquired, a temporary exhibition of his work was also held. These solo exhibitions were an innovation in the Middelheim Museum, which had previously mounted group exhibitions only. In this way a series of works of art was acquired, often with the support of the museum friends association, the Middelheim Promoters. Luciano Fabro, Guillaume Bijl, Franz West, Carl Andre, Henk Visch, Tony Cragg and recently Erwin Wurm were among the artists from whom work was bought.
Expansion and Different Kinds of Art In 2003, ten years after the policy change of 1993, the museum took the opportunity to acquire another seven hectares when two stretches of land, one on each side of Upper Middelheim, were relinquished by Antwerp’s parks department. French landscape architect Michel Desvigen gave them a simple park layout and at long last a depot was built for the museum’s reserve works, designed by architect Stéphane Beel. Although a similar thinking lay behind the layout of the two areas they were very different from each other. The section lying along Beukenlaan was used for coloured metal works from the 1960s and 1970s. Since 2009, Chris Burden’s 2009 Beam Drop Antwerp is sited there as well. In the same area there is also a building for workshops and various activities such as restoration or the assembly of works of art, and an open-air depot for art works from the town’s public spaces or from the Middelheim collection. The new section on other side of the park, towards the hospital, is completely different. Much of it lies above the Craeybeckx Tunnel (through which the E19 motorway runs) and is not as idyllic as the rest of the park. But it did offer the possibility to show a different kind of work, art that lies on the boundary of architecture and sculpture: a container installation by Luc Deleu, Joep Van Lieshout’s Franchise Unit, a Tennis Wall by Ann Veronica Janssens, an architectural installation by Pedro Cabrita Reis, a new entrance pavilion by John Körmeling – all works that are strong enough to integrate with this environment.
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◆ Exhibition pavilion Robbrecht and Daem
2012. A Museum Renewed And now there’s the Middelheim 2012 event, almost ten years further on and with the museum grounds extended by another five hectares. Middelheim 2012 comprises several sections. First there is the Hortiflora flower garden, which now becomes part of the museum and in future will be used only for temporary exhibitions. The architectural practice Robbrecht and Daem was asked to design a semi-open exhibition pavilion and at the same time to give some thought to the first artist to exhibit there. This was Thomas Schütte, who works primarily in ceramic and glass. New paths were laid to link the Hortiflora garden and Lower Middelheim and to provide new entrances to the museum from different directions. The castle has been extensively renovated and at last is a fully functioning part of the museum, with a café, a large terrace, and a museum shop with an information desk. The museum offices have moved to the first floor while the orangery, which they previously occupied, has become the home of the documentation centre and the library.
To add an extra gloss to the renewal, new work was commissioned from three artists – Roman Signer, Ai Weiwei and Philippe Van Snick. But the permanent collection also has a role in Middelheim 2012: the Braem Pavilion became the venue for a surprising installation of works from the museum’s collection, selected by the German fashion designers and scenographers Bernhard Willhelm and Jutta Kraus. The Hortiflora flower garden saw a trial installation of works from the collection, intended to illustrate the potential of the new site. And finally, for the first time, there are signposts in the sculpture park itself. The park now covers an area of thirty hectares, so visitor-friendly signage is essential to guide the public around the museum. Middelheim 2012 is not a single ephemeral event but a series of investments. They will ensure that the Middelheim Museum can move forward in the next ten years with an updated infrastructure. They herald a new chapter in the activity of the museum.
Menno Meewis Director, Middelheim Museum
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I n M e m o r iam
L u d o
Av o n d s
The sudden death of our colleague Ludo Avonds on 7 August 2012 has left us all deeply saddened. Ludo was the youngest of the famous Antwerp branch of the Avonds family of antique dealers, who were originally from Turnhout. In the 1960s Huis Avonds, established on Mechelsesteenweg, was one of Antwerp’s leading art galleries: from ‘Avonds to Zeberg’, with R. Bourgeaux, Ch. Michiels, Kitty Rueff and others in between. He lost his father, Albert Avonds, when he was still at an early age, so was literally brought up in the antique gallery and its restoration workshop, both expertly expanded by his mother, who died in the 1980s. Ludo acquired the knowledge he needed and the gallery continued under his skilful management, specializing primarily in seventeenth-century furniture and objets d’art. He also kept on the restoration workshop, where he gave new life to furniture and to pewter and copper objects and locks. A member of the Belgian Royal Chamber of Antiques and Art Dealers, Ludo Avonds took part for many years in the antiques fairs in the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels and the Campo auction house and the Festival Hall in Antwerp, as well as the Pan Amsterdam fair in the Netherlands. He also participated in all the Antwerp Antiquarians’ open-door days. Ludo was one of the founders of the Antwerp Antiquarians association. He was also one of the best of colleagues, a friend who could always be counted on. He will long be remembered.
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Name, Provenance and Quality 88-Gallery
Since 2008 Erik Müllendorff and his French business partner Philippe Rapin have had a gallery in London as well as Antwerp. In September this year they opened another in Paris. They specialize in design furniture and abstract art from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, with the emphasis on French and Italian designers and artists, not forgetting the Americans and Belgians. “You can’t be everywhere nowadays, and yet that’s a requirement for anyone working in this sector. So we’re often in Italy and France,” says Erik Müllendorff. “Because of this specialization I can recognize style and characteristics just by looking. That’s the level you have to reach as an antiquarian, I think – to see a detail and immediately know whose name to attach to it.”
Each and every object is unique or was made as one of a limited edition. The furniture is both decorative and functional. Erik Müllendorff: Take Ignazio Gardella’s bookshelves, which I particularly like. At first sight they look like ordinary shelves in Brazilian rosewood but Gardella, who was an architect, was in fact the first to install this kind of furniture, starting in his own home. You can safely say that it was Gardella who replaced the bookcase by wallmounted bookshelves. He produced his initial design for it in 1947 – just after the war – and this piece of furniture was made in 1955. The system he devised is fantastic and I’ve never seen anything else with this degree of perfection: it only takes a couple of seconds to change the position of a shelf. Gardella loved a handsome finish, with oversized details: here the shelves rest on oversized brass nuts and bolts. The bolts are eccentric so they prevent the shelves from sliding out. The furniture-maker only produced a couple of sets of bookshelves of this type: the milling and all the other techniques that are required happen to be very expensive. Because there’s even more ingenuity involved in it – like the compensation mechanism that allows for uneven floors, for instance.
◆ Wall-mounted bookcase (detail)
“It’s frequently the case that designers who were active in the 1950s were forgotten in the 1980s. Often they’re rehabilitated by people in the antique business”
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◆ Wall-mounted bookcase Ignazio Gardella (1905-1999) 1955 Italy Brazilian rosewood, lacquered metal and brass Each section 264 x 100 cm
Of course, this piece of furniture has been imitated ever since it was first designed, but in the copies you always see faults or changes that compromise the look of the whole thing. The details that make this piece so unique tend to get lost when it’s copied: you usually don’t see the eccentric bolts, the brass is replaced by stainless steel, the bolts are much smaller, and so on. Seeing that and communicating it to a customer is what we do. The copy doesn’t interest us – it’s no longer our field. We want to buy the prototype with its provenance on paper.
Gardella is still far too little known, if you ask me. It’s frequently the case that designers who were active in the 1950s were forgotten in the 1980s. Often they’re rehabilitated by people in the antique business who are always on the qui vive for names that have been wrongly forgotten. The next minute there are articles and books about them and then the floodgates open.
The name of Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti, on the other hand, has become almost mythical: The Milanese modernist Ponti was one of Italy’s leading architects before the Second World War. The block of flats he built in Milan is famous, and in Rome and Sorrento he built hotels that radiate lightness. Ponti is renowned for his introduction of lightness – in tropical villas, too. That was in the 1950s and 60s. What I’ve chosen here is actually a kind of architecture, but in furniture format. In this piece of furniture, which is in pear wood and dates from the 1950s, you can recognize the lines that Ponti used as an architect too, likewise the lightness. You should take a look at his designs. This is what you might call compact architecture. The chest stands on a single foot, which contributes to that sense of lightness. It’s almost as if it’s floating. That’s also because you don’t see that it’s anchored to the wall at the back. And there are no handles: to open a drawer you have to slip your fingers underneath the edge. You can feel the ingenuity of the 1950s here. We sell furniture like this to architects who are carrying out complete projects for their clients, maybe a villa in 1950s style, for which they need the appropriate furniture.
Name, Provenance and Quality 88-Gallery
Many contemporary artists experiment with unusual materials. I find what the French artist Pierre Giraudon has done particularly attractive. Giraudon, who is quite old now, worked with transparant resin and inclusions or affixtures. In the 1960s he was the first to perfect the resin technique. He pioneered the creation of works using this technique, based on themes like ‘time’, and he has also passed on the technique to others. The 1970s ensemble I’ve put together for this occasion references time and decay, with the appropriate symbols – cogwheels, dustballs, and so on. The obelisk is very special: it’s made in what’s called ‘fractal resin’. The resin is subjected to a high-voltage electrical discharge and this creates the crystalline effect that makes it resemble rock crystal. These are unique pieces. I find them very typical of their time. In my view you can say of a number of Giraudon’s works that if you were to give this man the Damien Hirst-type marketing and brand-recognition the whole world would be talking about him. It’s often so relative.
◆ Wall-mounted chest of drawers Gio Ponti (1891-1979) 1950s Italy Satin birch veneer with three long drawers, on a single central brass foot 82 x 100.5 x 47.5 cm
You can see that buyers are tending to find the artist’s name increasingly important, certainly as regards the twentieth century. ‘Who is it by?’ is often their first question and to them that frequently determines the value. I’ve seen that evolving: the designer has come more to the fore. That appreciation is no bad thing in itself but to me it’s about a combination of name, uniqueness and quality. What you also see is that the 1980s are gradually becoming more popular, just like contemporary furniture that’s made in limited editions. ◆ Pierre Giraudon Ovoid object in resin with inclusions of watch parts and dust-balls, 21 cm Obelisk in transparent fractal resin, 52 cm Multifaceted object in resin with inclusions of watch parts, 17 cm c.1970
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88-gallery Leopoldstraat 4 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 231 33 81 F +32 3 232 31 46 Mob +32 475 79 81 17
Opening hours_ Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. email@example.com www.88-gallery.com I 19
A Bridge to Antiquity akanthos
“There’s something very fascinating about the way that objects can provide a bridge between our ancestors who lived a couple of thousand years ago and ourselves. They link us with people who had the same feelings as we do. To me, that immaterial quality transcends the material object. And that connection still excites me.” Karl Stimm of Akanthos – the classical Greek word means ‘bear’s claw’, a plant with elegant curling leaves that was used as an ornamental motif on Corinthian capitals, for instance – is an enthusiast with a vision. In addition to the artefacts of the Classical world and its peoples his gallery is also a repository of medieval masterpieces. Amun-Ra, Jupiter and Christ, fraternally united. “I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to do anything else than what I do now.”
The objects selected for this book all date from Antiquity. The oldest comes from Egypt. The bronze and gold from which the little figure of Amun-Ra was made, probably somewhere between the seventh and fourth century BCE, positively radiates wealth. We know how old it is thanks to similar figures that can be dated. The seventh to the fourth century – that’s still the period of the pharaohs, before the land was surrendered to the Macedonian Alexander the Great around 330 BCE then ruled by the Ptolemies until the death of Cleopatra and the conquest of Egypt by Rome. Karl Stimm: These are votive figures: people would give them as temple offerings to obtain a favour from the gods. That still went on in the Ptolemaic period. In fact these are small-scale versions of the larger stone statues that stood in the inner chambers of the temple, which ordinary people were not allowed to enter.
Amun-Ra is not just any deity: he was the ‘king of gods’. He strides forward, wearing his crown. Originally there would have been a pair of large plumes projecting from it with a solar disc between them. The designs on his torso and upper arms indicate that he wore a wide collar and armbands. The Amsterdam Egyptologist, Professor Scheurleer, has examined this figure, which was made using the cire perdue or lost wax technique. He was impressed by its excellent state of preservation. Only the left hand, which given its position would have held an attribute, is lost. But the base is still the original one, the inlaid eyes have survived and, most exceptionally, it still has much of its decorative gold detailing. It wasn’t the intention, but to our eyes that gold contrasts beautiful with the dark patina the bronze has acquired over the centuries. The statuette comes from the famous Belgian Barbier collection. Scheurleer: Egyptian craftsmen were not aiming to be innovative. If you want to venerate a deity his likeness must be perfectly rendered technically. This little figure is particularly powerfully executed. Karl Stimm: I entirely agree with Professor Scheurleer. It’s an amazing thought that a statuette like this made by an anonymous craftsman in ancient Egypt still has the power to fascinate collectors and lovers of Egypt and Antiquity right up to the present day.
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◆ Figurine of Amun-Ra Egypt 26th – 30th Dynasty (663-343 BCE) Bronze and gold 12 cm Ex private coll. Barbier. Acquired between 1970 and 1980
“Egyptian craftsmen were not aiming to be innovative. If you want to venerate a deity his likeness must be perfectly rendered technically.”
A Bridge to Antiquity akanthos
◆ Altar I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) AVR(elivs) VALENTINVS V(otum) S(olvit) L(ibens M(erito) Balkans 2nd – 3rd century White marble 51 cm Ex private coll. JB ’s Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Acquired c.1980
◆ Legionary’s stool Thrace First century BCE – first century CE Wrought iron 49 cm Ex private coll. T. Helperi Kimm, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Published. Acquired c.1985
I’ve made a small symbolic arrangement with the Roman votive altar – which like the Egyptian statuette is also dedicated to the gods – and the iron faldistorium or folding stool on which a soldier could take the weight off his feet for a while. The two objects don’t actually belong together.
Roman soldiers left altars like this all over the empire. To me they symbolize a territory that was absolutely enormous – it stretched from Scotland to North Africa and from the Iberian Peninsula to Turkey and even beyond – and was made up of many different peoples. The Roman soldiers I mentioned could be of hugely diverse origins. To the Romans the army was an instrument for integrating people into the vast empire. And the little altar, which has a hole drilled in the top, probably for a bronze disc, brings us back to the realm of the religious, where you can see that same striving for integration: people often continued to worship their indigenous deities as well as the Roman gods that had been introduced and, of course, the imperial cult.
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The bronze pitcher and hand basin do go together. The discolouration shows that they must have lain where they were found for hundreds of years. These vessels were used for holding water and for washing your hands. You can see that they’re a pair from the decoration on the handles, for instance: they’re both in the shape of an animal head with eyes in silver inlay. You can argue about which animal it’s meant to be: some see a bear, others a feline of some sort, or even a dog. It’s not known where the vessels come from, though personally I think it was Gaul or Britain. But
Oever 7 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 248 18 55 Mob +32 486 28 23 54
◆ Patera and oenochoe Gaul or Britain First century CE Bronze with silver inlay H. oenochoe 15.5 cm, W. patera 27.5 cm Ex private coll. JB ’s Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Acquired c.1980
you also find pieces like this in Alexandria, for instance, which brings us back to that huge and fascinating Roman Empire, where you encounter similar objects in Scotland and Tunisia, to name but two extremes. I think that’s fantastic. Talk about European unification...
Opening hours_ Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. till 6.30 p.m. And by appointment. firstname.lastname@example.org www.akanthos.be I 23
The Power of Africa Amma Tribal Art
In the 1980s, when both were in their twenties, Luc Huysveld and Ann De Pauw of Amma Tribal Art had already fallen under the spell of the beauty and power of African art. It was during those first trips to Africa that their careers as collectors and dealers also began. “In the early twentieth century artists were the first to appreciate African art. They discovered that working in a more abstract way did not necessarily involve a loss of power or meaning. It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the general public caught up. Now we’re seeing the major museums gradually putting an individual focus on the art of each continent – Oceania, Pre-Columbian America and, of course, Africa. And that focus is not only on the artistry evident in the beautiful objects; the context in which they functioned is receiving increasing attention too.”
Ann De Pauw and Luc Huysveld collected the earthenware bowl with its striking freight of objects in situ when they stayed with the Fon in 1994. At that time it was one of the few areas where you could find authentic cult objects that were still more or less free of influence from outside. Up until the 1980s Benin’s communist regime made it a difficult place to visit, and even if you were allowed in you could only stay for short periods. Ann De Pauw: To understand an object like this properly you have to realize that in worldview of the Fon, as well as other groups in Africa, reality is made up of a number of forces, benign and malign. People can mobilize and interact with them and so can the spirits of the deceased, the ancestors. The purpose of African images and rituals is to allow the members of a community to harness or placate those forces and get a response from them. So objects like this are ‘magic’ in the sense that they’re ‘charged with powers’. People pray to them, and along with their offerings that prayer is absorbed by a vehicle that can convey their wishes into the force field and hopefully produce the desired result. The more powerful that means, the better, of course.
“We’re finding that the appreciation of ethnographic art is growing. It’s not without reason that new museums like the Quai Branly in Paris are giving it such a prominent place.”
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◆ Bo power object (earthenware bowl with combination of powers) Fon Dahomey (present-day Republic of Benin), West Africa First half of the 20th century Human skull, crocodile skull, goat skulls, horns, wooden sticks with iron snake (Dan) and stylized ram’s horns (héviôso), neolitithic axe head, bowl in earthenware, cord and diverse organic materials Dia. 46 cm Collected in situ in 1994 by Luc Huysveld and Ann De Pauw
That’s why this bowl is filled with such diverse objects. Bo, it’s called – an object full of power. It’s shrouded in great mystery but an adept can ‘read’ it. Each object has a specific function and represents a particular power. Together they provide a combination of those powers. For example, the human skull is arranged with its upper part visible so it can orientate itself in the world. The jaw and mouth on the other hand – the biting and eating part – are submerged in the rest so it can eat up what’s hindering or hurting you or making you ill. In many cultures a human skull is deemed to be highly effective.
The other objects have their own symbolic significance too: the crocodile skull represents the river and is meant to prevent drowning, the little wooden sticks with the representation of the snake symbolize continuity and so on. I find this a fascinating object. Or collection of objects, rather. The interaction of the cultural, the social and the natural: it’s all there.
The Power of Africa Amma Tribal Art
◆ Baule blolo bian figure Côte d’Ivoire 19th century Wood 28 cm Ex private colls. Monbrison, Paris & Marnix Neerman, Belgium
◆ Dan deangle mask Côte d’Ivoire Early 20th century Wood 24 cm Ex private coll. Alain Bovis, Paris
Amma Tribal Art collects objects from the whole of Africa. Often, they come from Western private collections. Luc Huysveld: That was how we acquired this male figure from the Baule, a group living in Côte d’Ivoire. It’s a particularly well-designed blolo bian figure, dating from the nineteenth century. Given the virtually petrified patina it must have seen a great deal of use. A figure like this would have been kept in its owner’s room. It represents an imaginary ideal spouse in the next world. He or she was present by way of this figure. So it should be pleasant and attractive both to the sight and the touch, even though it was often veiled or hidden behind a white cloth that covered it from neck to ankles. That presence is also reflected in the owner’s interaction with the figure: a plate of food was set before it and once a week the owner slept alone, with the statue next to him or her.
Ann De Pauw: The mask is also from Côte d’Ivoire, but from the Dan this time. It’s rather eroded, as you can see, but the serene, mysterious expression of an idealized young woman’s face is still very evident: the finely modelled mouth, rounded forehead, narrowed eyes, full cheeks... The holes around the forehead show that this mask would have been adorned with a headdress. It’s difficult to say exactly what function a Dan mask with a female face would have had: it may have been a guardian of a circumcision camp; it may have served a guiding and corrective purpose alongside the bearers of the malevolent masks; it may have played a part in festive masquerades... Often, we just don’t know. But you can see it’s been intensively used, not only from the erosion but also the dark patina on the inside and the edges.
We’re finding that the appreciation of ethnographic art is growing. It’s not without reason that new museums like the Quai Branly in Paris are giving it such a prominent place. African art deals with matters that touch the core of our human existence, however strange the rituals may seem to westerners and outsiders: family ties, living in a community, fear and hope, forces over which we have no control, life and death, life after death... That’s all there. The fact that we sell to respected museums and knowledgeable individuals gives us enormous pleasure. Then you know that other people will also be touched by what you once collected. And yes, that they too will feel its power. We’re very happy to pass it on. Amma Tribal Art
Wolstraat 16 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 772 11 90 Mob +32 496 31 08 36
Opening hours_ Opening hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. email@example.com www.ammatribalart.com 26 I ART-A
Golden Paintings Arends & Tammes Fine Arts
It’s a well known historical fact: it was often artists of Flemish origin who were all the rage in Amsterdam and elsewhere in Holland’s Golden Age. Robert Arends and Henriette Tammes took the reverse route, moving some seven years ago from Amsterdam, where they’d had a gallery since 1993, to Antwerp. Here, at the moment, they’re the only art dealers to specialize in Dutch and Flemish painters: old masters, but modern painters too. This year they’ve selected two exponents of the Golden Age.
For years Robert Arends has been a noted restorer for private collectors, auction houses and museums, and is therefore an expert on old master painting. He’s even restored a Rembrandt. Recent decades have seen an enormous evolution in his field thanks to new technology, yet still nothing replaces the direct contact with the material and the hand of the painter. Robert Arends: There’s a palpable intimacy about it. It makes working in this field a real privilege. For a while your mind is in tune with the painter, so to speak. A seventeenth-century painting also contains a wealth of information. You feel the spirit of the time in it. And the technique of the makers is unrivalled. I think that’s also the result of concentration and a training in looking at things. The great seventeenth-century painters were enormously accomplished in that respect. They were much more concentrated than we are; we’re flooded with images and information. Their mastery – of anatomy, for instance – is breathtaking: sometimes just a few lines are enough to catch the essence. That’s simply – and literally – insight. It still astounds me every day.
Henriette Tammes, an art historian with years of experience in the art trade, immediately applies these ‘insights’ to IJsgezicht (View of the Ice) by Ludolf Bakhuizen (16311708), who moved with his family from the German town of Emden to Amsterdam, a magnet for artists at that time. Henriette Tammes: Bakhuizen is known mainly for his large seascapes. He was the leading marine painter of the Dutch Golden Age after Willem Van de Velde and his work hangs in many museums, including the Louvre. In his long career, which only started when he was twenty-seven, he also painted portraits, townscapes and allegorical works.
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This painting is unique in his oeuvre. You can see at once that it’s a Bakhuizen from the intense contrasts of light and dark that characterize his work. Dramatic skies with their soft transitions are typical of him. The painting has become a little darker over time, but it’s still very subtle. You can clearly see the silhouette of a town on the horizon, for instance. Other areas are deliberately left very indistinct. Bakhuizen was obviously more concerned with rendering an atmosphere that representing a reality. Legend has it that in bad weather he’d put to sea in an open boat to observe the effect of the storm... You can see how cold it must have been. Just look at that snow-white strip in the foreground. This is not the kind of fun on the ice you find in Bruegel and later on in Avercamp; it’s perishing cold.
◆ View of the Ice Ludolf Bakhuizen (Emden 1631 – 1708 Amsterdam) Oil on canvas 51.4 x 66.3 cm Signed bottom left Lit. Hofstede de Groot no. 479
In his time Bakhuizen was in great demand. He worked for the likes of Peter the Great, the King of Prussia and the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In those days you couldn’t ask for a more impressive clientele. He also had a number of pupils, such as Jan Dubbels and Pieter Coopse, and he was hugely influential in his genre.
Golden Paintings Arends & Tammes Fine Arts
“It surprises me that in a city like Antwerp, with all its history and heritage, we’re the only gallery to specialize in the seventeenth century, also as valuers and intermediaries in art transactions.”
From Bakhuizen’s chilly exterior we move indoors and enter a magnificent Renaissance interior by Bartholomeus van Bassen (1590-1652), a painter born in Antwerp but active in The Hague. Henriette Tammes: Van Bassen was an architect as well as a painter. In Rhenen, near Utrecht, he built the winter palace known as the ‘Koningshuis’ for Frederick I, King of Bohemia, for instance, and he was the city architect of The Hague, where he also designed the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). As a painter he specialized in imaginary views of architecture with a marked perspectival emphasis. Van Bassen was not just any painter: according to the National Gallery in London he was the most important architectural painter in the northern Netherlands during the early seventeenth-century. In his native Antwerp he had probably been a pupil of Pieter Neeffs and Hendrick van Steenwijck. We know that in 1613 he enrolled in the St Luke’s Guild in Delft.
◆ Interior with Tric-Trac Players Bartholomeus van Bassen (Antwerp 1590 – 1652 The Hague) 1625 Oil on panel 55.2 x 82.6 cm Signed bottom right and dated 1625
Arends & Tammes Fine Arts
Mechelsesteenweg 214 - 2018 Antwerpen T +32 3 248 21 23 Mob +32 473 933 603
Robert Arends: Van Bassen followed firmly in the tradition of Hendrik Vredeman de Vries and his perspectival works. You don’t have to look for much meaning in a panel like this, which is signed and dated, and there’s also little point in trying to identify the splendid room: it probably never existed. You see a couple with a dog and men playing trictrac, a variant of backgammon. The figures and animals may be by another hand: we know that for the staffage Van Bassen collaborated with other painters. But of course it’s the impressive interior of this palatial chamber that commands all our attention. Robert Arends concludes: It surprises me that in a city like Antwerp, with all its history and heritage, we’re the only gallery to specialize in the seventeenth century, also as valuers and intermediaries in art transactions. Our client base is very international, but you do see that a number of collectors show a preference for the art of their own country. And then it strikes us that the Flemings, with their innate appreciation for painting, still have a marked preference for the colourful. Now, as a buyer you can scarcely ever be disenchanted with an old master: it’s a very stable market compared to other sectors.
Opening hours_ Preferably by appointment.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.arendstammesfinearts.be 30 I ART-A
Emotions without Words daroun
“Did you know that centuries-old textiles from South America were still turning up here in the 1990s as packing material for vases? Fortunately that’s now a thing of the past and textiles are properly valued. Many cultures that had no writing system transmitted their traditions and norms via their textiles and thus via the women who made those textiles. They ensured that cultural continuity.” A textile engineer by training, Liban Pollet of Daroun has a strong affinity with textiles from all over the world, whether they’re a couple of thousand years old or date from the nineteenth century. “At the same time I think cultures are an entity in themselves, and that you should see objects in a context. I try to convey that idea to the people who come to Daroun. That’s why my collection offers much more than textiles.”
Liban Pollet: There are only three places in the world where two-thousand-year-old textiles survive: in the area inhabited by the ancient Egyptians and later the Copts, in the region around the Taklamakan Desert in China, and in Peru. That survival is due to the dry climate and, in Peru, to the low level of nitric acid in the soil, which meant that
organic material was preserved. The piece I’ve chosen is from the Nasca Valley in Peru. It was produced by one of the oldest cultures of that region and is dated around the third century BCE, a period generally referred to as ‘ProtoNasca’ for lack of a better term, though lack of knowledge might be more exact. ◆ Proto-Nasca textile (hipcloth) Southern Peru 3rd century BCE Interlock-woven alpaca hair 80 x 75 cm
“I love oral cultures that endeavour to express their essence in images, in textiles, in the material. When you do that it really has to be spot on, if you know what I mean.”
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What we have here is a pair of alpaca wool breeches – or rather a hipcloth that you can fasten with a knot. It comes from a tomb, so it’s the last piece of clothing that the person wore. It was essential that the deceased should be clad in such a garment when placed in the tomb because that was the only way his or her identity could be preserved. That’s a concept found in many pre-Columbian cultures, including the Incas. Clothes literally made the man (and woman): they determined who you were and where you stood in the social hierarchy. Taking someone’s clothes meant taking their identity – which is why it was also used as a punishment. The great importance that was attached to clothes turned out to be detrimental: when the Spanish arrived, for instance, the Incas incinerated huge quantities of clothes rather than see them seized and their owners’ identity stolen.
In many indigenous American cultures red and yellow are the colours of male and female respectively. This kind of complementarity was fairly prevalent. What else the iconography of this hipcloth might tell us, we can really only speculate. I’m cautious on that score: if concepts like ‘cosmos’ and ‘fertility’ are bandied about, you have to be a bit wary. I find the theories that are developed are often fascinating and they lead to interesting discussions, but sometimes, as in this case, we simply have to admit that we don’t know. Or not yet, at any rate. Pieces like this, and their patterns, inspired artists like Gustav Klimt in his dress design. He was not the only modern artist to have used this idiom.
Emotions without Words daroun
On the other hand, we do know quite a bit about the context and meaning of the bagnuk, a wedding shawl woven by semi-nomadic Berbers from southern Tunisia. The bride’s trousseau consists of three parts: the rectangular keftya worn over the shoulders to protect the clothes from oily hair, the tajira which in turn protected the bagnuk and the rectangular bagnuk itself, which is over one metre by two metres in size. That was the showpiece of the trousseau. All three parts were woven by unmarried women on a primitive loom, ton sur ton, with the patterns in cotton and the ground weave in hand-spun wool. The weaver worked with the underside of the cloth facing upwards, which meant that she was unable to see the motifs she was weaving. That was quite intentional since it allowed her to demonstrate her skills. Once the pieces were finished they were coloured with a wool dye.
The objects in the Daroun gallery practically span the globe, from Peru to China and from Tunisia to the south of Madagascar, where the cedar wood tomb figure comes from. Liban Pollet: It’s at least nineteenth-century but possibly much older. Cedar wood is very prone to erosion, as you see. Strangely enough, you find similar figures in Vietnam! There’s one in my collection. The two peoples are very different but they speak a comparable language, which has its roots in Polynesia. As yet there are no conclusive explanations as to why that should be. In any case, since the Vietnam War there’s very little left of the Jorai culture, which produced this kind of figure, in Vietnam itself. Like its counterpart from Vietnam the Madagascan tomb figure is individualized, though now that’s hard to discern. It comes from the tomb of a lady. On the back of the figure a part of her headdress survives and from this we can deduce that she was a noblewoman. The family would gather around a figure like this to pray and seek contact with the spirit of the deceased. Nowadays in Madagascar figures like this are World Heritage and don’t leave the country. That can only be a good thing, because it means they’re preserved in their proper context. We regard them as art, but that was not the original intent. This figure was already on the art market in the 1970s. I bought it from a collector.
The young women made these textiles to be their dowry. Before seeing his intended, the future husband and his family were first shown that dowry. On that basis it was decided whether or not the marriage would go ahead, and what the woman’s status in her new family would be. Her place depended on the refinement, the quantity of cotton and the skilfulness of her work.
◆ Wedding shawl (bagnuk) Nefta, southern Tunisia 19th century tapestry weave in wool and cotton with indigo dye 220 x 110 cm
DAROUN Minderbroedersrui 41 - 2000 Antwerpen Boekkouter 30 - 9660 Brakel
Opening hours_ Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m.
F +32 55 42 71 54 Mob +32 475 27 13 81
email@example.com www.daroungallery.com 34 I ART-A
I love oral cultures that endeavour to express their essence in images, in textiles, in the material. When you do that it really has to be spot on, if you know what I mean. It has to grip, speak directly to you, work; it has to address both the intellect and the emotions. In my view that’s the very thing that makes it so fascinating and rich.
◆ Sakalava tomb figure Madagascar 19th century Wood 97 x 24 x 19 cm
2000 Years of China Esprit de l’Art
Every year Lut Decleer and Bruno Laurent make several trips to China, where over the years they’ve built up an extensive network of consultants. Lut Decleer: “To translate all those centuries of Chinese history and that enormous cultural production into valuable objects you need a network of experts, but more importantly you also need a good deal of knowledge and experience yourself. And I’m always happy when I can show people that in addition to the great and famous dynasties like the Han and the Ming the less well known periods produced magnificent work as well.” In addition to Chinese art, Gallery Esprit de l’Art also offers wonderful art from Africa. This year, however, China is in the spotlight.
The group of five terracotta figures from Xian is a very fine example of the artistic production of a less well known but nonetheless notable period of Chinese history. Lut Decleer: These figurines were made during the Yuan Dynasty, which lasted barely a century, from 1279 to 1368. The group comes from the tomb of a high dignitary. The figurines were symbols of power and wealth, and of course they also evidence the Chinese belief in life after death. It was in that context that miniature clay figures were made representing all the important characters and customs of daily life. These were placed in the tomb as grave goods, so that the deceased would be able go on with life. The Yuan period was a remarkable intermezzo in Chinese history. The dynasty was founded by the Mongolian Kublai Khan, grandson of the great Genghis Khan. Both of them had their eyes on China, but it was Kublai Khan – a Mongol, no less! – who took the title of emperor, becoming the first non-Chinese ruler. He moved the capital to Beijing and took power completely into his own hands, appointing Mongols to all the important posts in the civil service, for instance. The Mongols greatly admired Chinese culture – you can see that the ruling class adopted the Chinese lifestyle.
◆ Five Yuan figurines Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) Grey earthenware with white pigments 34 cm Thermoluminescence Test Certificate
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“To guarantee the authenticity of our objects we have various laboratory tests carried out, such as the thermoluminescence test on terracotta figures.”
In these realistically depicted figures, for instance, you have a mixture of Chinese and Mongolian traits. If you look at the round face, the expressive eyes and full lips you see that these are people from the Mongolian Steppes. They also have a broader build, as their sturdy robust posture shows. But the Mongols adopted the fashions of the Chinese: the cylindrical headdress with its two high wings, the angular knee-length robe, the wide draped girdle and baggy sleeves. In fact, if you were to smooth out all the beautiful folds you’d see the sleeves are longer than the arms. This suggests that these characters are wearing silk, for which the Chinese were famed far beyond their borders. There’s also a tremendous vitality in the group: the arms and heads of the figures all have a different dynamic. One has a splendid moustache and goatee beard, which was the fashion amongst nobles in the Yuan period. It’s no coincidence that it was during the Yuan period that Europeans – such as the Venetian Marco Polo – first travelled to the Far East, as did people from Persia and Constantinople. They came via the Silk Road. Those contacts are more or less directly related to the expansion of Mongol power, which opened the way between East and West, allowing trade to flourish. The Mongols even experimented with an early system of paper money. To guarantee the authenticity of our objects we have various laboratory tests carried out, such as the thermoluminescence test on terracotta figures. This group has also been tested, and the results confirm the dating to the Yuan period, the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century.
2000 Years of China Esprit de l’Art The oldest group we look at in this book is made up of four court figures from the Western Han Dynasty from Xianyang in Shaanxi Province. In our terms that corresponds to the first two centuries BCE. The colours of the figures are exceptionally well preserved: the palette ranges from red through pink and purple to white. I’m also very taken with the figures’ extraordinarily serene and restrained bearing and the combination of stylization and refined modelling in the face, the collar, the sleeves, the hem of the robe...
In our selection of objects we’ve ranged from around 200 BCE to 1500-1600 CE. This also gives some idea of the period you span as an antiquarian if you’re dealing with China. And of the refinement and high level of culture that has been coupled with it all those centuries.
◆ Twelve Ming dignitaries bearing zodiac symbols Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Orange earthenware with yellow, red, green and black pigments 17.5 cm Thermoluminescence Test Certificate
Lut Decleer: There are very good reasons why the great classic names – Han, Tang, Ming – are renowned. The twelve Ming Dynasty figures from Shanxi Province illustrate that very well. They date from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century and they obviously form a group: they’re dignitaries, each holding a sign from the Chinese zodiac and thus symbolizing the twelve-year cycle. The original bright colours of their robes have survived, which is very fine. And the details of the zodiacal animals, which are depicted in miniature, are quite remarkable: the ox’s horns, the rabbit’s long ears, the dog’s curling tail...
Esprit de l’Art
Leopold de Waelplaats 4 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 216 14 44 Mob +32 475 75 08 66
The five colours – the red figures are in the centre, then the yellow ones, and so on – allude to the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The figures have undergone the same tests as the Yuan group. They also show traces of calcification and mineral deposits, a result of the way they’ve been preserved.
Opening hours_ Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment.
◆ Four Han court ladies Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE) Grey earthenware with pink, red, purple and white pigments 29 cm Thermoluminescence Test Certificate
firstname.lastname@example.org 38 I ART-A
A Century of Looking and Focusing Fifty One Fine Art Photography
Fifty One Fine Art Photography on Zirkstraat in Antwerp is the only photography gallery in Belgium with an international reputation. The gallery and its founder Roger Szmulewicz, who also curates museum exhibitions, are often featured in leading newspapers like The New York Times and Le Monde. After more than seventy very diverse exhibitions since opening in 2000, the gallery has become a byword. Working with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Smithsonian in Washington, the Hermès Foundation in Paris – not everyone gets the chance to do that.
Roger Szmulewicz: “There’s a similarity of purpose between a joint initiative like ART-A and my own great ambition, which is to pull photography out of the isolated niche it’s still so often consigned to. You should take a look at how many photographers were trained as painters and designers and how they put the two media on the same footing, while they’re actually opposites. A drawing or painting begins with an empty paper or canvas but with a photo it’s just the reverse: in that case you have something that’s full, and as a photographer you have to select, choose the right moment, fix the frame. But you use the same pair of eyes for both media. The American Saul Leiter, whose work I showed recently, is a good example. If you look closely you can see that in his work the two art forms influence each other. I also like to confront artists from various disciplines, people who don’t know each other’s work. That doesn’t stop me from viewing photography as pure photography as well, of course. Besides, what’s in a word? Photography can be so many things. Good photography will always be relevant. I’m a photographer myself by training and I came into contact with people like William Klein, Saul Leiter and Arnold Newman. They were real mentors to me. I try and reflect that in my gallery: I give space not only to established names but to emerging talent as well. A good pair of eyes makes the year in which a photograph was taken irrelevant. The three photographs selected for this book are proof of that: they span a complete century. The name of the American-born Parisian William Klein (1928) has been mentioned. In 1963 an international jury was already ranking Klein among the thirty most important photographers of all time. Klein, who began as a painter,
was a photographer all his life and he also made brilliant films, like Cassius the Great. He worked for Vogue for eight years and it was during that time that he took the photo of the model, the painting and the coffee – that was in Rome in 1960. Roger Szmulewicz: Klein was in Rome to assist the film director Federico Fellini. He was the first to take fashion onto the street. In the 1960s he was already breaking all the rules but nobody wanted to follow him then. Isn’t that the case with nearly every innovator? What Alexander Liberman, his boss at Vogue, wrote in those years is perfectly applicable to the photo we’ve reproduced here: ‘In the fashion pictures of the fifties, nothing like Klein had happened before. He went to extremes, which took a combination of great ego and courage. He pioneered the telephoto and wide-angle lenses, giving us a new perspective. He took fashion out of the studio and into the streets.’ Klein has expanded photography’s vocabulary.
“There’s a similarity of purpose between a joint initiative like ART-A and a great ambition of my own, which is to pull photography out of the isolated niche it’s still so often consigned to.”
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◆ Simone & Painting + Coffee, Rome [Vogue] William Klein 1960 Rome 75 x 105 cm ©William Klein
A Century of Looking and Focusing Fifty One Fine Art Photography
◆ Grand prix de l'A.C.F. Automobile Delage Circuit de Dieppe, 26 juin 1912 Jacques Henri Lartigue 1912
50 x 60 cm ©Jacques Henri Lartigue / Ministère de la Culture - France / AAJHL
Roger Szmulewicz: It’s a dual thing: a good photo is always contemporary, but photography is by definition bound to its time. Lartigue’s photos capture the essence of the modern life of his day, with the arrival of the automobile or in his series on ‘women holding cigarettes’. Lartigue came from a wealthy background. That gave him access to certain milieus such as the first motor races in Paris and on the Côte d’Azur, and it also meant he didn’t have to depend on commissions. At the same time he had a truly excellent eye for things. That combination allowed him to take unique
photos of things that you don’t see anywhere else: there is no second Lartigue. He also kept a journal in which he noted everything he did in meticulous detail, including getting up and going to the lavatory. Thanks to those notes, we know exactly what we’re seeing, who, when, in what circumstances and so on. He was very concerned about what would be left of his oeuvre, so he made sketches of his photos on glass negatives. Lartigue painted too. The photo I’ve chosen, which was taken in 1912, is iconic, at least in other countries.
FIFTY ONE FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
Zirkstraat 20 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 289 84 58 F +32 3 289 84 59
Opening hours_ Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment.
◆ Photograph from the Sleeping Beauties series, taken in the Royal Museum for Fine Art, Antwerp Friederike Von Rauch - 150 x 150 cm ©Friederike Von Rauch
We end in Antwerp, in our own time. Roger Szmulewicz: Friederike von Rauch first published work about cities like Rotterdam, Brussels and Berlin, then worked with David Chipperfield on the Neues Museum in Berlin, photographing the museum before it opened. Her photographs are not documentary; instead, they seem to create new spaces. She works slowly and conceptually, rather than just recording what’s there. It’s perhaps no coincidence that she’s also a location scout and looks for historical sites for major Hollywood productions. She is someone with a real feel for locations and spaces.
The photo I’ve chosen comes from the Sleeping Beauties series. Friederike took her camera into the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp when it was closed and preparing to move. At that time no one was allowed inside. Hence the basic idea and the title: the doors are closed and the works of art and the galleries don’t have to put on their best face. They can relax, be themselves, take the make-up off. You see photos of parts of frames and works of art that are patched up, wrapped up, taken down from the wall... The wall is discoloured and the paintings are standing on the floor... You get to see details that set the imagination to work. It's a very intimate way of looking at works of art and sections of galleries. In the photo I’ve chosen, the early painting with the patches for restoration becomes almost modern. It’s as if it’s become a contemporary work. That’s very poetic, I think.
email@example.com www.gallery51.com 42 I ART-A
Ivory Gems Honourable Silver Objects - Cabinet of Curiosities
Dick Graaff, who with his colleague Theun van Beers has a gallery full of the most extraordinary objects, offers a surprising remark: “Change is the most effective way of keeping our clients coming back to us.” Every year restyle, surprise, offer something a little out of the ordinary – the customers of Honourable Silver Objects have come to appreciate it. There’s a wealth of possibilities, but for this catalogue ivory sculptures have been chosen.
Dick Graaff: We’ve been in business for twenty-three years, fifteen of them doing what we’re still doing today. People have come to know that the range we offer is very wide, very much in the spirit of the cabinets of curiosity or chambers of wonders that have existed since around the sixteenth century. Ivory objects were an integral part of such collections, along with other ‘exotic’ naturalia, such as nautilus cups, extraordinary shells, exotic woods, tortoises, you name it.
◆ Mortar Germany 17th century Ivory 16 x dia. 10.5 cm
◆ Turned cuppa 17th century Ivory and ebony (old restorations) 15 x 9 cm
Ivory’s value comes from the material itself, of course, but also from the way it’s been worked. The provenance of a piece has to be considered, and to me the patina is also essential, since that indicates how old the piece is: ivory should never be perfectly white, not if it’s meant to date from the seventeenth or eighteenth century at any rate. Take the little statue of a standing nude female figure offering the breast. She’s attended by a putto holding up a bunch of grapes and a dog, a traditional symbol of fidelity. The front and back of the statuette are a very different colour, which is entirely due to the way ivory reacts to light
◆ Standing female figure with putto and dog (detail) 17th century Germany Ivory 21 cm
“People want to be different from everyone else. That’s normal, and it’s always been one of the reasons why cabinets of curiosity are created.”
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◆ Memento mori Probably Flanders 17th century Ivory 6.5 x 5 cm
Ivory Gems Honourable Silver Objects - Cabinet of Curiosities
or the absence of it over the centuries as well as to its natural layered structure. In this case we can associate the name of a workshop and an artist with the piece. It was produced in the circle of the great Leonard Kern, who was active in Heidelberg and Schwäbisch Hall in Baden Württemberg and elsewhere in the seventeenth century. Kern was trained as a sculptor and often worked in ivory. We can connect a name with the figure of the beggar or tramp as well. That carving comes from the circle of Willem Krüger, who worked in Dresden in the early eighteenth century. He was known for his sculptures of this kind – depicting characters who lived on society’s margins. These figures were collected by wealthy people and noblemen who amused their guests with them, as a form of diversion or entertainment, you might say, perhaps during a drinking party. A figure like this touched on a topic that would spark
We do more than sell objects. We also help people think about the arrangement of their rooms. Where should an object go? How can you create a completely different effect by moving things? How do you create beautiful ensembles? How do you place an object so it’s shown to its best advantage? Sharing that process is our passion, in addition to the artefacts themselves, of course. And it’s the reason why nearly all our collectors and clients keep coming back: they want to buy an object and then be advised about how we see it in their home... ◆ Memento mori (detail)
off a conversation. Cabinets of curiosities served much the same purpose. In this case the subject is one with which the interlocutors would have had little familiarity... You see the same thing in painting, in so-called conversation pieces, scenes that provided subjects for discussion, often of moral issues.
◆ Figure of a tramp or beggar (detail) Circle of Willem Krüger Early 18th century Ivory 15.5 cm
Most ivories are unsigned. You need an expert eye to place them. You can classify them by the way they’ve been carved or on stylistic grounds. The next figure we’ve chosen for this catalogue – it’s St Bartholomew, who was martyred by being flayed alive – is an example of inimitable carving, executed in this case in late-seventeenth- or earlyeighteenth-century southern Germany. By the same token we can say that the vanitas statuette of the child with his arm resting on a skull is most probably Flemish. Looking at that beautifully carved face I’d even go so far as to call it ‘Rubenesque’. The same sort of figure made in southern Europe would look completely different. For this occasion we’ve made it part of a special assemblage of ivories, a sort of still life with a pestle and mortar and a cuppa. All three are seventeenth-century. The mortar has a very distinctive patina, which is the result of the use it’s been put to in its medicinal context and its inevitable contact with human hands... You see the same thing in the smaller mortars which gentlemen used to grind tobacco into snuff.
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That’s why we like to deliver a new customer’s first purchase to their home. Then, the next time they come to you, you’ve got an idea of the space and can tailor your advice accordingly. In that way you build a real collection together. It might develop into a historical cabinet, but it could just as well become a combination of contemporary and ‘antique’. That trend towards eclecticism has increased enormously over the last years. It’s always been there, of course, certainly among larger collectors and people who have travelled a great deal and absorbed influences from many different places. They want to see that reflected in the way their house is arranged. Other people are still a bit more traditional. People want to be different from everyone else. That’s normal, and it’s always been one of the reasons why cabinets of curiosity are created. Call it exclusivity. But there’s more to it than that, something that’s as old as time – the enjoyment of beautiful, unique things that are yours, the delight of hiding something away then bringing it out again, whether it’s just for yourself or for a group of close friends.
Honourable Silver Objects Cabinet of Curiosities Leopoldstraat 29 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 232 88 26 Mob +32 475 26 76 85
◆ Figure of the flayed St Bartholomew (detail) 1690 - 1720 Southern Germany Ivory 22.5 cm
Opening hours_ Saturday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. firstname.lastname@example.org www.silverobjects.be I 47
The Power of Choice galerie Jamar
Jos Jamar has been in his profession for almost twenty-five years. In all that time he’s held to one clear course, following a limited number of well-chosen artists. This is not a limitation in his view; rather the reverse: “You have to make choices if you want to be good at your job as an art dealer. You have to keep up with artists and specialize in their work. That opens up new perspectives. It’s an approach my clients share.” Jamar has worked on several catalogues raisonnés, including those of Marcel Broodthaers and Panamarenko.
Jef Geys (1934) is a key figure in the Jamar Gallery and one of the eight artists that Jos Jamar has followed for several decades. Back in the 1960s Geys was already turning the art world on its head. He’s produced an extremely diverse oeuvre but you can detect a firm principle running through it. Geys catapults art into reality (and vice versa) with a dislocating, anarchistic intent that’s often born out of a social concern. He makes you think – and not without humour. Jos Jamar: Every year since 1963, for example, Jef Geys has done one small and one large painting of a colourful packet of seeds – the sort you buy at the garden centre. That series is still continuing. His premise is that this sort of little package deludes the buyer with false hopes. Appearance, confusion and deception, therefore, but in colourful cheerful-looking works. That’s his way of ripping the mask off advertising. It’s a strange thing... Jef Geys has exhibited in a lot of important places – Kassel, Venice, Münster, in the US, in museums like the Van Abbemuseum, at the Witte de With gallery, with Balen’s Socialist Women’s Group – yet ask a hundred people here who Jef Geys is... In my view he’s up there with Magritte, Broodthaers and Panamarenko as one of the best Belgian artists of the twentieth century, but his work isn’t easy to grasp, not to mention that he enjoys creating confusion.
◆ Large Seed Packets - Sachets de semences Jef Geys Painted on wood, one per annum 140 x 92 cm Work no. 49
“You have to make choices if you want to be good at your job as an art dealer. You have to keep up with artists and specialize in their work. That opens up new perspectives. It’s an approach my clients share.”
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The Power of Choice galerie Jamar Geys, Broodthaers, Panamarenko and Pierre Alechinsky: these are the four ‘older generation’ artists that Jos Jamar follows and sells. Among the young turks are Jan Fabre and the somewhat less well-known Laurent Cruyt. If the opportunity arises – and it does happen occasionally – he’ll also buy Spilliaert, Magritte and Ensor, but these ‘classic’ modern artists are more easily sold than found, so to speak. This just about sums up the Jamar’s stable of artists. This is clearly a ‘Belgian’ gallery. Jos Jamar: An Alechinsky (1927) appeals to a different clientele than a Jef Geys or a Marcel Broodthaers. I particularly like Alechinsky’s slightly earlier work and I think the 1970s was his best period, when he was producing work that was aesthetically very strong. The work I’ve chosen for this book – Par la cheminée, from 1972 – is a good example.
◆ La Pipe B Marcel Broodthaers 1969
Plastic panel in relief 83.5 x 119.5 cm Signed, dated ‘69 on the reverse. Pièce unique
It’s a small step from Jef Geys to Marcel Broodthaers (d. 1976). It was Geys who pointed out to Jamar the importance of Broodthaers not just at the time but in the future too. Jos Jamar: I’ve been engrossed in Broodthaers’s oeuvre for over thirty years. So I’ve gradually come to know where his work is and who really knows it. Like Geys, Broodthaers is an artist who has something to say, someone with content. It’s a tragedy that his career in the visual arts was so short, not much more than ten years. He started out as a poet but found it enormously frustrating. You could fairly say that Broodthaers died of poverty. But
his importance is certainly appreciated today. When the revamped Jeu de Paume opened in Paris in the 1990s Broodthaers was the first to have an exhibition there. For this catalogue I’ve chosen the moulded plastic panel from 1969, with its obvious allusion to Magritte’s pipe. The two of them knew each other well. Broodthaers made seven copies of each panel but this is a one-off. It’s signed and dated 1969 – that’s one year after his Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Section XIXème Siècle (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, NineteenthCentury Section) which established his name.
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The COBRA group, of which he was a leading member, had been disbanded quite some time before that. In 1964 he started to produce this kind of work, using acrylics on paper then transferring that to canvas. What he also often does is introduce a sort of predella, a graphic border at the bottom of the work, as you see here. Sometimes he does a top and bottom border, or puts a border round the whole image. I prefer to leave it up to the individual to interpret a work like this. Sometimes you can say something about the situation in which a certain work was produced, but that’s not the case here. With an artist like Alechinsky it’s not necessary either, I think. Alechinsky is coming my way more and more often now. Naturally you also evolve as an art dealer: twenty years ago I had fewer opportunities to buy a work like this... Alechinsky is a good example of an established artist who a section of my clients particularly like and keep up with. Jos Jamar has a firm conviction: I still stand by it – the 1960s was an innovative time for every form of art: music, visual art, dance, design, architecture... And the different disciplines stimulated each other. Everything cohered; it was a general mentality, a tidal wave. I miss that spirit in contemporary art, where you hear the cry of ‘innovative’ far too often. If I look on the Internet, there are apparently thousands of artists who are all equally important. That’s something I’ve yet to see... People like Panamarenko and Geys have gradually ascended the ladder step by step and in that way they’ve evolved and grown over the years. They’ve built up a body of work, without being tied to a particular gallery. That freedom and independence are also part of it. With corresponding results. ◆ Par la Cheminée Pierre Alechinsky 1972 Acrylic on paper mounted on canvas 167 x 154 cm Signed centre right; signed, dated and titled on the reverse
galerie Jamar Cockerillkaai 16 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 238 68 75 F +32 14 85 14 71 Mob +32 477 33 74 61
Opening hours_ Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m.
email@example.com www.galeriejamar.be I 51
Objects with a Story Cedric Moermans antiques
This year Cedric Moermans (1980) celebrates his gallery’s tenth anniversary. Since 2002 it has shown an outstanding selection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English furniture. Moermans also specializes in exceptional individual objects, with a particular preference for items in ivory, horn, mother of pearl and tortoiseshell. He has globes, chessboards, model boats and all kinds of antique caskets, but his greatest love is for walking sticks. In this niche he’s the largest specialist in Belgium; he also takes part in international cane collectors’ conferences such as Canemania.
When it comes to walking sticks, Moermans can talk for hours: To the aristocratic lady or gentleman of the Belle Époque – the period between 1890 and 1914 – a fine walking stick or cane was de rigueur. Such an accessory was an extremely costly item; the price depended not only on the shaft but on the handle as well. Often the handle would take the form of a small sculpture representing a historical figure such as a writer or poet. But it could also be the head of a native or exotic animal. The walking stick I’ve chosen here has a naturalistically rendered duck’s head for a handle. It’s in ivory and has an ingenious system that allows the beak to move. It’s mounted on an ebony shaft and has a brass ferule. But that’s not all: when the beak opens and closes this ‘quacking duck’ walking stick imitates the sound of a duck, which makes it a very desirable collector’s item. Stamped on the silver collar is ‘CC’, which stands for Charles Cooke, one of the leading designers of the Brigg Umbrella Company. Thomas Brigg founded the company at 23, St James Street in London in 1836. It still exists, though known now as Swaine Adeney Brigg & Sons. From the very beginning the excellence of the
◆ Duck’s head walking stick Stamped on the silver collar is ‘CC’, the initials of Charles Cooke, a designer with the Brigg Umbrella Company Wood, ivory, silver, glass Early 20th century 87 cm Private coll. East Flanders
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◆ Regency Anglo-Indian workbox Vizagapatam, India c.1825 Sandalwood, horn, ivory 27 x 34 x 26 cm
goods it produced was recognized and the Brigg company soon came to be regarded as the most prestigious maker of walking sticks and umbrellas in England. It’s also renowned for patenting walking sticks and umbrellas with firearms concealed in them. Capitalizing on its national success, the Brigg Umbrella Co. opened its first continental branch in Paris in 1899. Its international standing is shown by the many awards the company won at World’s Fairs and other exhibitions. By the early twentieth century the Brigg company was famed throughout the world, with agencies in most of the capitals of Europe and even in Buenos Aires in the Argentine.
The second object I’ve chosen for this catalogue is a Regency Anglo-Indian buffalo-horn-veneered workbox lined with sandalwood. These boxes were made by Indian craftsman in Vizagapatam, in eastern India, for the English residents. They were brought or sent back to England, usually by the people who had commissioned them. From the beginning of the nineteenth century they were imported more commercially, although not in any significant numbers until the middle decades of the century. They were very highly valued, especially the early ones, to the extent that the ribbed designs were copied on late nineteenth and early twentieth century tins. This is an early example and dates from around 1825.
Objects with a Story Cedric Moermans antiques
The early-nineteenth-century horn boxes were made in very robust architectural shapes. They often had stepped or canted lids of radiating reeded segments culminating in turned and fluted finials. They stood on turned feet, which showed up the form to full advantage. The top of the present box is made up of large radiating segments of buffalo horn, with a turned and carved overhanging knob in the centre. The box is in wonderful condition, maintaining its integrity and patina. The colour is now a glowing green. The inside is in sandalwood, often imported from Bombay and immediately recognizable by its perfume, which it keeps for hundreds of years. It’s very rare to find a box with two layers like this. In the upper part is a compartment with subdivisions in ivory and sandalwood, intended for smaller items such as needles and so forth. In the lower part is a lift-out compartment which fits the workbox exactly. The ivory edging is decorated with a floral pattern that was typical of the time. There are two pincushions as well as several original labelled boxes for ‘buttons’, ‘white brace’, ‘black brace’, ‘white buttons strap’, and so on. The sewing box or workbox was a much loved personal home accessory in which the lady to whom it belonged kept her embroidery tools and materials. At a time when ladies of a certain social standing had few outlets for their artistic creativity, the ability to compose and embroider designs on fabric was seen as a major accomplishment.
“To the aristocratic lady or gentleman of the Belle Époque – the period between 1890 and 1914 – a fine walking stick or cane was de rigueur.”
◆ Dice box France Early 19th century Ivory 11 x 5 x 6 cm
The third and final curiosity is a French ivory object from the early nineteenth century. It’s in the form of two heads, one a finely carved pope, the other a devil with horns and a broad grin. The pope’s ‘hat’, which is a clear reference to the dome of St. Peter’s, twists open to reveal a hollow space for three small ivory dice. Represented on the outside are on one hand the most important personification of Catholic European culture and on the other, upside down to it, the embodiment of evil, the devil. This ivory dice box thus reflects the struggle between good and evil, between devotion and pernicious activities such as gambling. This duality has always been a very human thing. It’s this type of exceptional object that Cedric Moermans most likes to sell: unique objects with a story, which continue to fascinate even after two hundred years.
Cedric Moermans Gallery Leopoldstraat 27a - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 475 21 01 Mob +32 497 42 00 86
Opening hours_ Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m. Saturday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org 54 I ART-A
Asia in the Plural Marcel Nies Oriental Art
When it comes to Asian art, Marcel Nies is an international authority. In fact that’s almost an understatement for someone who’s been taking part in TEFAF for quarter of a century, who’s invited to sit on numerous vetting committees, and who has supplied objects to some of the world’s major museums. His considerable knowledge is also evident in his choice of objects for this book: “I’ve selected three icons of great Asian cultures, three bronze sculptures from three different periods. Bronze has always been a fantastic medium in Asian art. The three pieces are very different in the emotions they convey. In that sense they complement each other.”
We start with a piece that’s a pure joy – the dynamic figure of the naked dancing Krishna poised in mid-step. Marcel Nies: This wonderfully extrovert twelfth-century figure is an icon of the renowned Chola dynasty of southern India, a high point of bronze culture. The young Krishna is visibly elated. His hair is piled up on top of his head and he wears a beautifully detailed mukuta. There’s movement in every part of this figure, down to the smallest detail; there isn’t a single weakness anywhere. It’s perfectly balanced, despite the vigorous dynamism. One of the hallmarks of a good piece of sculpture from Asia is that no matter which side you look at it from the balance is still perfect and it’s equally expressive from every angle. That’s absolutely the case here. Everything about it is alive, which perfectly reflects Chola philosophy. Another exceptional aspect of this statue is that it’s cast in solid bronze, reflecting the concept of eternity and immortality, but that weight in no way hinders its sense of dynamic motion. This is not a ‘heavy’ sculpture, and that too is one of its qualities, I think. It shows that something is really well made. The fine detailing of Krishna’s jewellery was incorporated into the casting process – it’s not engraved. The piece is also in excellent condition and has a long provenance. It comes from an old English collection.
From extroverted, dynamic and playful we move to introverted, serene and serious. The early sixteenthcentury Buddha Sakyamuni clad in a monastic robe comes from the north of Thailand and is a product of the powerful kingdom of Lan Na. Marcel Nies: A statue like this was not made for aesthetic reasons and for its beauty, although that’s how we look at it now. Its purpose was to evoke emotions in those who visited a temple – to provide spiritual stimulation and to encourage them to look more deeply into themselves. You feel something innate flowing from within it. Quite apart from that it’s made with great craftsmanship, with very pure volumes and exquisite lines; it’s balanced and extremely harmonious from whichever side you see it. And the natural greenish patina is also wonderful. I’ve seen many buddha statues come and go, but this... In iconographic terms the figure represents one of the most important episodes in the Buddha’s life. His left hand rests in his lap in the position that signifies meditation; his right hand touches the earth in the gesture known as the bhumisparsha mudra, calling her to be the witness of his triumph over the demon Mara, who endeavoured to distract him from his meditation. This was the last obstacle on the Buddha’s path to enlightenment.
“You can invent stories about your pieces to your heart’s content but as far as I’m concerned everything starts with the quality of the object itself.”
◆ Buddha Sakyamuni Lan Na kingdom, early 16th century Bronze, cast in the lost wax method, fine patina with traces of lacquer and gilding 58.5 cm Art Loss Register Certificate
The nose and eyes are stylized, likewise the unnaturally elongated ear lobes. And the fingers are all the same length. That’s a very modern design for its period. At that time people were still trying to decide how the Buddha should be represented: what was the ideal of beauty? Hence the ‘deviation’ from realistic images. But despite the stylization the sculpture still has great expressive power. That’s also part of what makes it so extraordinarily fine.
◆ Krishna Chola period, 12th century South India, Bronze 45.7 cm Provenance: Christie’s London, December 11, 1973 Vasundhara Gallery, Switzerland, December 1975 The Marshall Family collection, UK, 1975-2012 Art Loss Register Certificate
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Asia in the Plural Marcel Nies Oriental Art
The bronze figure from Cambodia represents the fourarmed Vishnu, the Hindu deity responsible for preserving the balance between good and evil in the universe. This is a once-in-a-lifetime piece that you’d really only expect to see in a museum. It comes from the collection of a Belgian gentleman who worked for the king of Cambodia. You can hardly have it more direct than that. In my view Cambodia is one of the greatest cultures of the Asian continent. It’s assumed that a fantastic bronze culture flourished there over a prolonged period, but a lot of metal was subsequently melted down – to make weapons, for instance. Most of the surviving bronzes date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but this statue was made in the Koh Ker period, when the rebel Jayavarman IV established a new albeit short-lived capital to the north-east of Angkor in 921, the early part of the tenth century, thus. The royal complex he created included a large number of temples. That’s where this statue comes from. Such large works are exceptional.
Marcel Nies Oriental Art Lange Gasthuisstraat 28 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 226 74 55 F +32 3 226 64 84 Mob +32 475 65 10 85
◆ Vishnu Koh Ker period, 10th century Bronze, cast in the lost wax method, with a fine greenish natural weathered patina 57 cm Art Loss Register Certificate
The expression is also striking, as you can see from the intensity of the gently smiling face: the open eyes, the delicately modelled nose, the elegant moustache, the eyebrows rendered as a single unbroken line... The pleated sampot or hipcloth is wrapped very freely round the body, the crown is remarkably decorative; and again this is a work of art that you can look at from every side. You can invent stories about your pieces to your heart’s content but as far as I’m concerned everything starts with the quality of the object itself. It must exemplify its culture and it must speak for itself. Hence my choice of these three works. In many cases, the quality is underlined by the provenance, also very important. And there are additional factors, like the condition, the patina, and so on. Very good things never just appear out of the blue. That’s one thing that I’ve learned after all these years.
Opening hours_ Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. till 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. Saturday from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. email@example.com www.asianart.com/nies 58 I ART-A
The Art is in Combination Axel Pairon
What does antique Scandinavian furniture have in common with vintage design from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, or with contemporary art and photography? The answer: Axel Pairon, since 1996 the owner of an art and antiques gallery on Leopoldstraat in Antwerp. You’ll also find Axel Pairon, an art historian who bought his first piece of antique furniture when he was thirteen and who learned his trade as an intern at Christie’s in London, at the annual Eurantica art and antiques fair in Brussels and Antica in Namur.
Axel Pairon: My main criterion is my own taste: I only buy what I really like myself. Everything starts there. Then there are other criteria, such as those you apply to a vintage object: is it really vintage – made at least before 1980? You can see that if you have an experienced eye. The colour and patina are also essential, and of course the object’s condition. That’s why I always have to see a piece in reality before I commit to buying it. Otherwise you
can never really judge properly. Take the Swan Chair by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen, for example. It’s from around 1966; an early edition. You do find these chairs, but rarely in such good condition as this and that’s what matters to me: the chair shows signs of use but for instance there are no holes or tears in the leather. The same goes for Arne Norell’s Lounge Chair. Norell was one of the great Swedish designers of the twentieth century.
“I often say to people that if you see a piece you really like it will fit your interior, even if that seems hard to believe at first sight.”
◆ Swan Chair Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) Designed in 1958 75 x 75 x 68 cm
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◆ ‘Ari’ Lounge Chair and Ottoman Arne Norell (1917-1971) Designed in 1966 76 x 65 x 81 cm
The Art is in Combination Axel Pairon
◆ Terrazza Ubald Klug (b. 1932) Designed in 1972 Each section 65 x 85 x 160 cm
The special thing about the Lounge Chair is that it’s a very progressive piece of furniture just because it’s so ergonomic. It was made at a time when that kind of consideration was absolutely not a matter of course. And again it’s a model in very good condition. The Terrazza chair, designed by the Swiss designer Ubald Klug in the early 1970s, is also an exceptional piece. It’s trapezoidal and can be arranged in various ways, so you can sit or lie next to each other, in a pit, against the wall or not, and so on...
Good vintage can come from anywhere. For instance I’ve got French, American and Italian pieces here too. Yet still I have to say that I like the simplicity that’s such a strong characteristic of the Scandinavians. And always has been, by the way: if you look at antique Swedish furniture you can see that austerity there too. It’s often compact and multifunctional as well, an important consideration in the cold North, where houses are small so they’re easier to heat. A table, for example, was often dining table, desk and sidetable all at the same time. This is why eighteenthand early-nineteenth-century Swedish furniture has such a surprisingly current and contemporary look. You also have the high quality pinewood that was used in Scandinavia and which is almost always painted. It has to be the original paint and patina, of course.
Opening hours_ Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. till 6 p.m.
Leopoldstraat 35 - 2000 Antwerpen Mob +32 498 102 815
firstname.lastname@example.org www.axelpairon.com 62 I ART-A
All these features have an important advantage: furniture with those qualities is easy to combine. And that’s something I’ve enjoyed doing right from the start, initially with Art Deco. In that way you can really help people with the design of their interior. Swedish Rococo with 60s and 70s vintage? It’s perfectly possible. That’s something you can’t do with bravura pieces of furniture which were especially made to impress. I’ve been doing this kind of mix and match for years, and my customers appreciate it too. Using a small touch to give a classic interior a new feel, without people having to let go of things they’re attached to: I really like that. Again, vintage furniture lends itself perfectly to this kind of approach. Something else I do, though it’s a completely different thing, is try to convince devotees of paintings to give photography a chance once in a while. That’s another love of mine: good contemporary photography. I represent several photographers, including Massimo Listri, the renowned Italian architectural photographer, and the Parisian Denis Rouvre, known for his images of Senegalese wrestlers and more recently for his series representing elderly widowed survivors of the tsunami that hit Japan last year. He’s already won various important prizes with those.
I often say to people that if you see a piece you really like it will fit your interior, even if that seems hard to believe at first sight. Usually things can be perfectly combined, particularly if you call on the professional eye of an outsider. A lot depends on how you place things, but often you can make the puzzle fit perfectly. I see that as soon as I enter a room somewhere. That’s the fascinating thing about this business: it’s always different. You never know in advance where you’ll get to or who you’ll meet. Usually they’re nice places and nice people. After all, we’re talking about the pleasant side of life.
Passion and Belief galerie Schoots + Van Duyse Gallery International + Contemporary Art
It was party time in Antwerp’s Eilandje quarter this spring when the Schoots and Van Duyse galleries opened their new joint gallery just a stone’s throw from the MAS, the Museum on the River. Roland Janssen, who has run the Willy Schoots Gallery in Eindhoven since 1979, literally transcended his borders to join forces with Marleen Van Duyse’s new gallery in Antwerp.
Roland Janssen: This is a win-win move in many respects. We wanted to enhance our international reputation as a gallery. How better to do that than by becoming part of Antwerp’s cultural life with its growing international scope? We’re proud that we’re now part of the fine row of big-name Antwerp galleries. We’re developing our own personality and programme, so that as a new gallery you also strengthen that gallery activity as a whole. We not only organize exhibitions, but also make alliances with colleagues, we support museum projects, handle artists’ international management and so on. Nowadays a gallery must be flexible, I would almost say mobile, if it’s to operate well. But everything begins with having quality work. This means that you have to be occupied full time, and also passionately and obsessively with your gallery. That should be reflected in the hospitality you offer your customers. They want to be informed.
Marleen Van Duyse: In selecting the works for this catalogue we’ve gone for a combination: a young SpanishDutch artist who’s already very successful, and established names that are very much in again at the moment, who are still vigorously active and with whom Roland has a longstanding relationship. I find this diversity, this combination of contexts and the tension that’s created in the process extremely fascinating. Everything you do starts with believing in it one hundred per cent and with passion, that goes for both the artists and ourselves. Imitators and opportunists have no place here. We know our artists and we have direct contact with them in their studios. ◆ LZ 129 Hindenburg 6 V ‘37 Lakehurst, NJ (VI) Raquel Maulwurf 2008 Charcoal and pastel on museum board 152 x 204 cm
“Nowadays a gallery must be flexible, I would almost say mobile, if it’s to operate well. But everything begins with having quality work.”
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No sooner had Raquel Maulwurf (1975) completed her studies at Arnhem and Amsterdam than she was making a stir, and she’s already been shown in galleries and museums at home and abroad. She’s represented in major collections and our clients are literally queuing up for her new work. Maulwurf produces overwhelming, intense compositions, series of drawings in which black predominates. She works on paper or museum board, starting from photographic reproductions of events. To see her monumental drawings is to be immediately impressed by their depth and power: dramatic, violent moments frozen in time. You feel that here is something fundamental, that deals with primal
elements. There are no people in these images: what we see is the tragedy they cause, the destruction, the decay... Hence the inky black and the partial scratching of the surface, which is thus literally damaged. You often have to look long and hard to find a light source. And everything takes place in an urban environment or in nature. It wouldn’t be going too far to say that her work has a charac teristic quality that puts you in mind of Anselm Kiefer.
Passion and Belief galerie Schoots + Van Duyse Gallery International + Contemporary Art Tokyo and, of course, Antwerp, where he lives and works for some of the time. You can find his work in many European collections and museums and in 2013 he’ll be showing at the Guggenheim, in a group exhibition. Naturally, it’s a fine thing that as a gallery you play a part in that.
It’s a matter of great delight to Roland Janssen that the work of Jan Henderikse (1937), whom he represents, is undergoing a re-evaluation. Roland Janssen: Henderikse and also Daniel Spoerri were both exhibiting in the Antwerp Hessenhuis before 1960, and they keep on coming with new work, hale and hearty guys in their seventies and eighties. Isn’t that fantastic? The MuHKA is currently highlighting their work and their role as pioneers of assemblage art and antipeinture. As a gallery we’re responding to that, as we should. In 1961 Henderikse formed the NUL group with people like Armando, Henk Peeters and Jan Schoonhoven and since the late 1950s he’s worked with readymades and assemblages. They’re often composed of whatever he happened to come across: floating debris from the Rhine,
◆ Untitled Jan Henderikse 2012 Assemblage, cork on panel 60 x 60 cm
corks and ampoules, number plates, coins... Everyday things. Henderikse associated the Duchampian idea of the readymade with the stream of stuff we use, sometimes love, but just as easily throw away again. You could call him a sharp-eyed ethnographer. Or as he himself says, ‘I’m interested in everything that moves mankind.’ Later he focused on photography, film and artists’ books. Recently the interest in his multimedia oeuvre has increased enormously, and in places that matter in the art world – Berlin, Düsseldorf, Nice, London, New York, Johannesburg,
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Henderikse also exhibited with Daniel Spoerri (1930), the third artist that Roland Janssen and Marleen Van Duyse present here with one of the works that made his name. The Romanian Spoerri fled with his family to Switzerland in 1942, after his father was murdered by the Nazis. In 1959 in Paris he got to know people like Arman and Yves Klein and he was immediately attracted by artists who integrated everyday materials and processes in their art. It was in this period that he produced his first Tableaux Pièges or ‘snare pictures’: tables at which Spoerri had been eating with friends and which at a random moment he fixed by gluing the objects to the table. Roland Janssen: That goes a step further than the objet trouvé: Spoerri doesn’t intervene in any way. He then hangs that random table vertically on the wall like a vanitas still life, which creates an extremely surprising effect. Spoerri was an early member of the nouveau réalisme of the 1960s, the European version of Pop Art, whose intention was to liberate art from its elitist character. And in 1961 he took part in The Art of Assemblage, a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where assemblage art was given wide public currency for the first time. At the moment he’s working in Vienna. Marleen Van Duyse: In fact it’s simple: you have to believe one hundred per cent in what you sell. You also have to be continually surprised yourself, and you have to continue to surprise your customers.
galerie Schoots + Van Duyse International + Contemporary Art Napoleonkaai 15 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 689 13 14 Mob +32 497 90 49 35
◆ Falsches Fallenbild auf Mosaïktisch Daniel Spoerri 2011 Assemblage on mosaic table 62 x 30.5 x 65 cm
Opening hours_ From Wednesday till Saturday from 12 p.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. email@example.com www.galerieschoots-vanduyse.com I 67
All the World under a Single Roof Herwig Simons
The monumental building that once housed the headquarters of the Compagnie Maritime Belge in the heart of Antwerp is a singularly appropriate location for Herwig Simons’s stately gallery. Just as the CMB once sailed the world’s seas, Simons’s collection brings together centuries and continents: “Like many of my customers whose travels have brought them into contact with diverse cultures and who want to have those around them at home too.” It ranges from precious objects from ancient Egypt to Roman busts to unique pieces from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From paintings, sculptures and furniture to amber jewellery and a sixteenth-century Flemish owl cup that was part of a guild’s paraphernalia. The three works of art selected for this book exemplify the eclecticism that typifies Herwig Simons’s gallery and is his trade mark. Herwig Simons: I think I can say that I set the trend for that eclecticism, for bringing together and combining diverse periods and cultures, which is becoming more and more popular. The art lies in constantly renewing yourself whilst always retaining your own recognizable identity.
Simons wants his customers to be constantly surprised. Taking this philosophy as a guideline has led to his pieces appearing on posters for the antique fairs of London and Brussels. ◆ Tazza Hermann Ratzersdorfer c.1870 Cut and engraved rock crystal set in silver gilt and decorated with enamel 33 cm
Herwig Simons: The tazza I’ve chosen for this occasion is made of silver gilt, decorated with enamel and inlaid with rock crystal. It’s a masterpiece by the nineteenth-century Viennese jeweller and goldsmith Hermann Ratzersdorfer, who was born in 1817 and grew up in his father’s antique business. Ratzersdorfer was unique in his extraordinary ability to work and engrave rock crystal, which is extremely fragile. He achieved perfection in the craft. His inspiration came not only from what he saw his father doing but also from the Miseroni workshop in Milan, where this technique had already been developed around 1600. Ratzersdorfer had great admiration for his Italian predecessors. He exhibited his work at the World Fairs in Vienna, Paris and London. In 1843 he set up his own workshop in Vienna, which was a thriving and prosperous place during Ratzersdorfer’s lifetime. Ratzersdorfer was in turn an inspiration to the celebrated Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé. Those are pretty impressive credentials if you ask me. From nineteenth-century Vienna we go to seventeenthcentury Italy, most likely to Rome, the Eternal City. Herwig Simons: This beautifully carved lion’s head in Carrara marble comes from a Roman fountain. Its maker is unknown. You have to imagine it ornamenting a handsome fountain in the city. These were showpieces that not only provided drinking water but also brought fame to their patrons and makers. They were encouraged by the Catholic Church, which was seeking ways to contrast itself with the sobriety propagated by the Protestant reformists in the sixteenth century. This is the atmosphere Rome and its heritage still exudes today, thanks in part to the many fountains that you find throughout the city.
◆ Lion’s head fountain mask 17th century Carrara marble Italy 42 x 35 cm
“A piece should sell itself. If you think something is beautiful you should simply go for it.”
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All the World under a Single Roof Herwig Simons
◆ Canopic jar with the head of Imsety, the human-headed deity who protects the liver Egyptian, 26th Dynasty (600-500 BCE) Egypt Alabaster 38 cm
Our journey through time ends in ancient Egypt. Herwig Simons: For many people the culture of ancient Egypt still makes a powerful appeal to the imagination, as indeed it has for the last couple of centuries. Take the highly developed Egyptian culture of death with all its trappings, for instance. It’s very impressive, and people are indeed impressed by it. The ancient Egyptians did everything in their power to preserve the body of the deceased. They believed that man would live on in the kingdom of the dead and would have the same sort of needs there that he had in his life on earth. The body was therefore embalmed and mummified, and placed in a sarcophagus. The internal organs were kept in four individual vases known as canopic jars. The heart – man’s soul – was left in the body. This canopic jar, whose lid is in the shape of the god Imsety, was for the liver, which was regarded as an important organ. It’s made from alabaster and dates from the sixth century BCE. You also have jars in terracotta.
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herwig simons Sint-Katelijnevest 61 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 227 11 57 F +32 3 227 11 57 Mob +32 475 46 75 46
Visitors to the gallery are discretely looked after by Herwig Simons himself. He concludes: A piece should sell itself. If you think something is beautiful you should simply go for it. The memory of a missed purchase can sometimes gnaw at you for years and invariably leaves you with that all-toowell-known feeling of ‘If only...’.
Opening hours_ Thursday till Saturday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. firstname.lastname@example.org www.herwigsimons.be I 71
The Passion of the Professional galerie Raf Van Severen
“Just look at that light and the way those clouds are painted! No wonder the Antwerp-born First World War flying ace and aviation pioneer Jan Olieslagers likened his home town to Marrakesh.” Standing in front of the view of the Antwerp roads by Jacob Jacobs (1812-1879) with Raf Van Severen you’re left in no doubt – this art dealer, the only dealer in Antwerp to specialize in painting between 1850 and 1950 and with the emphasis on Belgian artists, is passionate about his profession. And about light and colour, as his three chosen paintings makes clear...
Raf Van Severen: The Antwerp artist Jacob Jacobs is traditionally referred to as ‘a Belgian romantic landscape painter’. But that doesn’t tell us much, since as we all know, romanticism was fairly prevalent in nineteenthcentury painting. That description also covers a lot of work of a much lesser quality. You have to be able to pick out the best. That’s what I go for – not so much the great names but for paintings whose quality really hits you in the eye. In my view Jacobs, who was a pupil of luminaries like Wappers and De Braekeleer at Antwerp’s Royal Academy, definitely comes into that category. You find his work in the royal museums in Antwerp and Brussels, for instance. Later he taught at the Academy himself and had pupils like Emile Claus and Théodore Verstraeten.
Look at the depth he’s achieved in this painting. Jacobs produced it in 1843, after he’d returned from a long trip through North Africa, the Orient, Greece and Central Europe. It’s a pendant to a work depicting an Egyptian panorama and you can see something of that Orientalism here too. Indeed, almost half of Jacobs’s oeuvre is in Orientalist style. Later on he travelled in Scandinavia as well. There are traces of all these journeys in his work. You could say that I share Jacobs’s love of light. This painting was probably commissioned from him by an Antwerp ship owner who wanted a portrait of his vessel. Normally you wouldn’t see that type of ship on the Scheldt; they were built for the India trade. The puddle in the foreground is a sort of Jacobs signature.
“No, this isn’t a job you can do just for the sake of earning a living; you have to be passionately involved with it.”
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◆ The Antwerp Roads Jacob Jacobs (Antwerp, 1812-1879) 1844 Oil on panel 60 x 80 cm
The painting was in an English collection for years, hence the Victorian frame. A colleague from London drew my attention to it. I see there’s a growing interest in this sort of ‘romantic’ painting – also by Belgian painters – in countries like China and Russia. That constantly reminds me that here in Belgium there’s a deeply-rooted centuriesold tradition of painters of great quality – among the less well known names as well. And you can still often buy them for a reasonable price.
The Passion of the Professional galerie Raf Van Severen
◆ Katompe Fernand Allard l’Olivier (Tournai 1883 –Yanongé, Belgian Congo 1933) Oil on canvas 80 x 100 cm
My father is an old colonial and he collected Africanists – artists who painted African scenes. He built up a large collection of paintings, watercolours, drawings and so on, so I grew up surrounded by them and I’ve come to know the genre ‘inside out’, you might say. It’s an attractive niche. The work I’ve chosen is by the Tournai painter Fernand Allard l’Olivier, one of the most important Belgian Africanists. The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp has some of his monumental paintings, for instance, and his work hangs in the museums of Tournai and Tervuren as well. He was born in 1883: during the First World War he volunteered to serve at the front, becoming one of the official war artists in the Section Artistique. In 1928 he
made his first trip to what was then the Belgian Congo where he made copious sketches and drawings – scenes of daily life, dancers, musicians, rituals and so on. This painting is one of the results of that trip. Allard l’Olivier has painted a Tsonge ritual, apparently one which the women could attend. Allard l’Olivier’s second mission to Congo was also his last, brought to a tragic end when he fell into the River Congo and didn’t live to tell the tale.
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How do we label the Brussels-born artist Ernest Godfrinon (1878-1927), a man whose main subjects were still lifes, women and landscapes? A Post-Impressionist? A Fauve? A Tachist who worked with a sort of dash technique? The labels are sometimes so interwoven, particularly in the period I specialize in, when new movements came and went in rapid succession. This work dates from 1912, and again I’m taken with that wonderful light that both illuminates it and emanates from it. It could easily put you in mind of Rik Wouters, a contemporary of Godfrinon. It’s the type of painting which – if I see it for the first time on the Internet or in a photo – makes me think that I absolutely have to see it for real, though in fact that applies to all paintings. Not only because something on the Internet may have been significantly manipulated but also because there’s so much emotion and intuition involved. To really feel ‘it’ you have to stand in front of the work itself. Then you can consult the encyclopaedia in your eyes, as it were. You very soon see which painting has a power of its own, not least because you see it affecting other viewers too. And if you’re occupied with that on a daily basis, as I am, then gradually you acquire a trained eye. No, this isn’t a job you can do just for the sake of earning a living; you have to be passionately involved with it. Then it becomes a wonderful occupation and you learn to know your business through and through, which makes the pleasure all the greater. I wouldn’t change places with anyone.
galerie Raf Van Severen Leopoldstraat 19 - 2000 Antwerpen (vitrine: Minderbroedersrui 61) T +32 3 231 02 33 F +32 3 231 02 24 Mob +32 495 54 14 11
◆ Portrait of a Lady Ernest Godfrinon (Elsene 1878 – Schaarbeek 1927) 1912 Oil on canvas 44 x 65 cm
Opening hours_ Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m.
email@example.com I 75
The Timelessness of Universal Beauty Axel Vervoordt Company
Timelessness. It’s perhaps the one word that sums up in a single idea what it is that characterizes the collection of the Axel Vervoordt Company. ‘Timelessness’ leads you automatically to universality, authenticity, purity, inner strength, emotion... By combining the pieces in an interesting way their aura is intensified. Small wonder that the three objects selected for this catalogue span nearly 3500 years.
In 1968 Axel Vervoordt opened his first antique shop in the heart of Antwerp. Last year saw the opening of the Axel Vervoordt Gallery on the selfsame spot in the historic Vlaeykensgang, run by Axel’s son Boris Vervoordt, who concentrates on contemporary art. In 1986 Axel Vervoordt moved to ’s-Gravenwezel Castle and in 1999 part of the collection was transferred to ‘Kanaal’, a former industrial complex on the Albert Canal covering around two hectares. The objects – furniture, sculpture, paintings, archaeological artefacts, contemporary art – are from every age and culture. Placing them in a precise way creates dialogues and interactions. The collection is cared for by a large team of designers, interior architects, art historians, restorers and specialized craftsmen. And the customers? They come from all over; the greatest American museums are among them. Vervoordt has long been a fixed presence at the major trade fairs and events in the antiques sector. Axel Vervoordt: The sandstone head from Egypt transports us, as it were, to the palace of the famous Queen Hatshepsut, who after the early death of her husband Thutmose II assumed royal power and ruled Egypt for a period in the fifteenth century BCE, from 1470 to 1458. The head we see here is of Senenmut, a commoner who rose to be Hatshepsut’s greatest courtier and the steward of her daughter, Princess Neferure. That Senenmut was in high favour with the queen is evidenced by the fact that he was granted the privilege of burial within her own mortuary complex in Deir al-Bahri and was also permitted to add reliefs depicting himself in her temple. That was certainly very unusual and leaves us in no doubt about Senenmut’s importance.
We can identify the head because in the first place we know exactly where it was found. It’s a fragment of a sandstone high relief in a shrine dedicated to Senenmut in Deir el-Bahri. A stylistic comparison also leaves no doubt: the almond-shaped eyes and enigmatic smile are very characteristic. The head of his pupil Neferure must have been depicted at the height of the chin. Traces of red painting are still visible. The sculpture comes from the private collection of the Parisian, Emmanuel Verley.
“‘Timelessness’ leads you automatically to universality, authenticity, purity, inner strength, emotion... By combining the pieces in an interesting way their aura is intensified.” ◆ Head of Senenmut Egypt New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Reign of Hatshepsut, c.1479-1458 BCE Sandstone 25 x 15 x 19 cm
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In a sense we remain in the ancient world with the second piece, a large painting of a ruinous yet still monumental Roman basilica. It dates from 1650. Around that time, and even earlier, the painting of compositions featuring decaying Roman monuments was a much-practiced genre. This was largely a consequence of the great interest in the Classical period that was felt at that time, when Italy and Rome were obligatory destinations for artists. You find images of architecture with its appropriate perspective in the painting of both northern and southern Europe.
Axel Vervoordt: In the work of this Italian artist, whose name we only know a part of – it’s possible to make out ‘P. Debon’ but there must be something else after that which is now illegible – you can see the influence of the great French artist François de Nomé and the Italian Viviano Codazzi: the dramatic light, the inclusion of sculptures which enliven the composition... Look at the two large torsos in the niches in the left and right foreground, next to the Corinthian columns, for instance. Above the torsos are friezes depicting mythological or historical scenes. At the
◆ A Ruined Roman Temple with Figures c.1650 Oil on canvas 147.5 x 201.5 cm
Axel Vervoordt Company Kanaal Stokerijstraat 19 - 2110 Wijnegem T +32 3 355 33 00 F +32 3 355 33 01
Opening hours_ Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. firstname.lastname@example.org www.axel-vervoordt.com 78 I ART-A
The Timelessness of Universal Beauty Axel Vervoordt Company same time, the space here is very realistically represented – the structure is gradually becoming overgrown with vegetation, for example. Nature is taking over culture again, everything is transitory... Even then that kind of romantic and melancholy reflection was deemed to be the proper response to ruins. Here the entrance has been blocked by collapsed columns and sections of fallen cornicing.
With A Walk in the Wind, a painting by the Paris-Venetian artist Ida Barbarigo (1925), we stay in Italy and in the tradition, for she’s descended from a family that has been producing artists since the Renaissance. Barbarigo, who was married to the artist Zoran Music, has been showing her work since the 1960s, particularly in the Parisian art scene, and has had solo exhibitions in Venice, Basel, Milan, London, Paris and elsewhere. Barbarigo is concerned less with objects than with the space between them. Her paintings might depict chairs that she encountered
Beyond, you see a portico with a row of eight arches and the same number of oculi that allow the light to penetrate. Perhaps the inspiration behind this was the famous oculus of the Pantheon in Rome. Or the work of Hans Vredeman de Vries? Gesturing figures and sundry livestock bring life to the ruins and to the painting.
◆ A Walk in the Wind Ida Barbarigo (b. 1925) 1962 Oil on canvas 89 x 130 cm
as she wandered through the city, or in gardens or on café terraces... but ultimately that’s arbitrary. Her work is not about empty chairs, stacked chairs, chairs casting shadows... but about the invisible energy that hangs around the material and that is referred to as ‘ma’ in Japan. Or how static chairs start to move.
Contemporary Art in the Vlaeykensgang Axel Vervoordt Gallery
It was in 1968 in the heart of Antwerp, in a narrow sixteenth-century wynd known as the Vlaeykensgang, that Axel Vervoordt began his business, starting with the rescue from ruin of the little cobbled lane itself. Since last year his son Boris has been running a new gallery for contemporary art on that same spot. Art from today and from around the world in a unique Antwerp location that’s redolent with history... it’s a special experience.
It’s remarkable how a gallery comparatively limited in size – just ninety square metres – can still feel like an enormous space. The work of Korean photographer Bae Bien-U (1950) is partly responsible for that. Boris Vervoordt: In the seven or so annual exhibitions that we plan, we offer a platform to artists who reflect the Vervoordt philosophy. Here you’ll hear the voices of artists for whom harmony and respect are important concepts: harmony between man and nature, between past, present and future; respect for the world and its people. These are creative seekers and they’re given a prominent place here. Call them humanists, if you will. Bae Bien-U and his nature photography is a good example. You have to know that over a third of Korea is covered with pine forests, which are a very important part of the culture there. You find the pine as a symbol of longevity and transcendence – it accompanies the souls of the dead into the afterlife, for example – and it plays an even more important part at the crucial moments of life: birth, rites of passage, death... There are no roots to be seen in the photo, just thin dark tree trunks rising in the foreground, and a beautiful dewy light which seems
to absorb the trees in the background in grey. As usual in Bae Bien-U’s nature photographs there are no people. This is a Zen view of a small section of Korean pine forest and of nature at large. It’s only really powerful photographs of nature that can make such a profound and intense impression. The three objects chosen for this book take us on a kind of world trip. Boris Vervoordt: Gotthard Graubner (1930) is known among other things for his Farbraumkörper (Colour Space Bodies). He doesn’t use colour to give objects identity, quite the contrary: his aim is to represent colours in all their purity, until they reach the immaterial. In the 1960s he had already started to integrate colour cushions under the canvas to literally thicken the spatial effect of coloured surfaces. This gave them a distinct energy and a ‘movement’ that you don’t find anywhere else. Colour is the work, and as a viewer you have to get used to it. The German art historian Max Imdahl once referred to Graubner’s works as ‘spaces of sensation’ and they’re certainly that. Graubner himself calls it ‘kuehle glut’. Now, it’s always very difficult to put that ‘sensation’ and ‘glut’ into words. You simply have to open yourself to the confrontation with such an elusive work, which has no theme, no perspective and no details. It’s liberating. The Ghanaian El Anatsui (1944) grew up in a period when Africa was vibrating with hopeful expectations. Many countries on the continent were gaining independence and their people were in search of their identity. Paradoxically, they found that partly in their ancient traditions, just at the moment they were being eroded by westernization. At the same time those traditions were also passed on to the next generation. That search, which has always had a political, social and historical dimension, is a central theme in El Anatsui’s work.
◆ snm2a-005h Bae Bien-U (Yeosu, 1950) 1986 C-print mounted on plexiglass 170 x 210 cm
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◆ Kuehle Glut Gotthard Graubner (Erlbach, 1930) 2006 Canvas mounted on synthetic wool and painted with acrylic 183 x 162 cm
Boris Vervoordt: Hermit can be read as a metaphor. In this work El Anatsui uses discarded materials, colourful screw caps from liquor bottles. He collects them then re-uses these objects-with-their-own-history – insignificant in themselves – to make a new whole. A new fabric, you could say, with a new meaning to which each individual and anonymous article contributes. He sews the bottle caps together with copper wire, thus giving these otherwise extremely humble and tiny items a monumental stature. You might want to bear in mind that Europeans once exchanged liquor bottles (with screw caps!) for slaves along the West African coast.
Contemporary Art in the Vlaeykensgang Axel Vervoordt Gallery I find the result astonishing: the visual impact of the work is very powerful. It looks like a tapestry, but one made of supposedly stiff and hard metal. It becomes almost sensual. With a work like this, El Anatsui also reflects the great African tradition of the transmission of cultural values via symbols on textiles. Artists like these are my reason for being a gallerist. In 2007 Axel Vervoordt was one of the curators of ARTEMPO. Where Time Becomes Art in Venice, an event that has since acquired cult status, for which El Anatsui draped the façade of the Palazzo Fortuny with a ‘cloth’ made up of thousands of glittering bottle caps. Meanwhile, his work is included in major permanent collections: the British Museum, MoMA, the Pompidou Centre, Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf and so on. In the spring of 2012 he exhibited in the Vlaeykensgang. Truly a place to cherish.
“With a work like this, El Anatsui also reflects the great African tradition of the transmission of cultural values via symbols on textiles. Artists like these are my reason for being a gallerist.”
Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Vlaeykensgang - 2000 Antwerpen (Oude Koornmarkt 16) Mob +32 477 88 80 60
Opening hours_ Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment.
◆ Hermit El Anatsui (Ghana, 1944) 2012 276 x 276 cm
email@example.com www.axelvervoordtgallery.com 82 I ART-A
Carpets with a Capital C N. Vrouyr
Christian Vrouyr, one of Belgium’s most respected carpet dealers, is troubled. “Recently, my daughter Naïry and I travelled through Mazandaran Province in Iran. In many places with a strong tradition of carpet-making you see that things are being lost, especially as regards taste – the colour combinations, the texture... It’s a result of mass production, shorter production times, cheaper dyes and general superficiality. That worries me.” Christian Vrouyr’s profound knowledge and affection for his trade is evident as he speaks.
How do you choose three pieces from a stock of almost 2,000 carpets from the Americas, North Africa, Europe and, of course, Asia? Christian Vrouyr: We do indeed have a very wide range, varying from designs by contemporary artists to anonymous products from the nineteenth century and earlier, and stretching from China to South America. We only draw one borderline, and that’s quality. Take the Senneh rug we’ve chosen. Senneh is now the city of Sanadaj in Iranian Kurdistan. Even before the seventeenth century, the time of the Safavid dynasty, that was where the governor of Kurdistan lived. The carpets that were made there are famous and they belong to the great Persian tradition. It’s with good reason that Senneh gave its name to the Persian or Senneh knot, an indication of the quality of knotted and woven rugs. What makes this rug so special – apart from the fact that it’s particularly finely woven – is its remarkably small size. Pieces like this generally derive part of their prestige from their size. This one you could fold up and pop in a pocket or bag. It’s made of silk, which is rare in itself, and it also has a thin silver thread woven through it. I haven’t seen a rug like this for years. It’s a really curious piece. Presumably it had a function as well as being decorative, but we’re not certain just what it was.
Not knowing things is fairly commonplace in our field. You hear a lot of stories in situ, but most of them should be taken with a large pinch of salt. The truth is never allowed to get in the way of bumping up the mystery – and the price. You’d be astonished how many dismally banal carpets were apparently once owned by siblings of the Shah. If you add them all up there must have been an extraordinary number of brothers and sisters with countless palaces containing an incredible number of rooms, each one knee deep in carpets... You need experience, also when you’re there on the spot, and an expert eye to see through the stories. The pattern consists of a popular floral motif that you often see recurring in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There’s a distorted Herati motif in the corners. You don’t have to search for any great symbolism in it. What often happened is that a woman would sit at her loom and adopt the motifs of her parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on, perhaps with an occasional small addition but without giving it too much thought. In traditional communities people tend to abide by the norms. When it comes down to it, carpet and rug making is a trade, however astonishing some of the pieces may be. Compare it with much of medieval European art. Nevertheless, to their makers textiles are still a means of self-expression.
“Not knowing things is fairly common place in our field. You hear a lot of stories in situ, but most of them should be taken with a large pinch of salt.”
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◆ Rug Senneh (now Sanadaj), Iranian Kurdistan Late 19th century Silk with silver threads 80 x 57 cm
At the other end of the spectrum are the great artists who have designed carpets. You can associate a remarkable number of names with carpet design, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, William Morris and many others. In Belgium Elisabeth De Saedeleer, a daughter of the painter Valerius, was a major figure. She worked with people like Gustave Van de Woestijne, Michel Seuphor and so on, and really put Belgium on the international map in terms of carpet design. There’s always been a strong tradition of carpet-making in this country, of course, not to mention the tapestries that artists like Rubens and Jordaens designed. Much of what is now regarded as ‘French’ and adorns French chateaus as Savonnerie actually comes from Belgium.
Carpets with a Capital C N. Vrouyr
As a carpet dealership we continue that tradition of collaboration with artists. We work closely with Viviane Tahan, for instance, a Paris-based designer of Lebanese origins and herself the daughter of a carpet dealer. She discovered Antwerp and now she designs carpets for us, then we have one of each design hand-knotted in Nepal. So these are unique pieces: contemporary, linear, modern, with constructivist motifs, sometimes with unusual shapes... I think it’s incumbent on a business like ours to consider the future and the renewal of carpet-making.
◆ Central European textile c.1900 Embroided patchwork. Silk and cotton. 46 x 61 cm
◆ Asti Designed by Viviane Tahan (Paris) Contemporary Cotton warp and weft with wool pile Carpet with six colours and lines clipped in the pile 180 x 300 cm Handknotted in Nepal. Limited edition (one piece). Clipped signature
Komedieplaats 4-6-8 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 232 36 87 F +32 3 226 39 75 Mob +32 475 66 89 62
Opening hours_ Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30 a.m. till 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. Saturday from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment.
Our third piece, which is made in silk and cotton, also puzzles me. It looks old, it’s needlework and it has all the hallmarks of a Central European piece. But I wouldn’t swear to it. This isn’t an exact science: Morocco, Turkey, Central Europe, India – sometimes it can be all of them. If someone tells me with an air of absolute assurance that he does know, it makes me very wary. You meet that a lot in the East, where people are often afraid of losing face so they have to give the appearance of complete certainty. Obviously, there are many cases in which your expertise let’s you see at once where a rug comes from. You look at the texture, the design, the way it’s made, the sort of wool, the colours – and that tells you enough. But even then
you still have to be cautious. Take a woman who for one reason or another has moved from Central Afghanistan to Iran or Turkey and continues to weave in her own tradition for a while... I like to leave the uncertainty for what it is, in front of the customer as well. And I value the diversity and multiplicity in our field, which are now under threat in many places. Tradition is being killed off in order to meet what’s regarded as the general good taste. This is often determined by a few people who say how it ought to be. People now have to make things that they don’t like themselves. While the most beautiful examples are often hanging on the wall right in front of their nose.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.vrouyr.com 86 I ART-A
A Little Bit of Egypt in the Far East victor werner
When Victor Werner started out in 1986 he specialized mainly in earlynineteenth-century European antiques and works of art. Since then he has extended his activities to buying and selling paintings, sculptures, furniture and items from around 1800 up to the mid-twentieth century. The neoclassical style remains an important part of his collection and business. He is a member of the Royal Belgian Chamber of Antique and Fine Art Dealers and of the Antwerp Antiquarians, and he participates in the Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair (BRAFA). For Art-A 2012 Victor Werner has chosen a pièce unique, an extremely rare Egyptianized bookcase dating from the early twentieth century.
In the nineteenth century, and the twentieth century too, the European imagination was seized by ancient Egypt. The result was a rage for things Egyptian, known as Egyptomania. It had its genesis in Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign, which in military terms was a failure. But Bonaparte had taken with him a sizable group of artists, draughtsmen, architects and scholars whose task was to make a careful record of the mysterious land of the Nile and its countless works of art and architecture, which were subsequently illustrated in splendid books. The floodgates really opened in 1822, when thanks to the trilingual Rosetta Stone – also discovered during the Napoleonic expedition – the classical scholar and philologist Jean-François Champollion made the crucial breakthrough in deciphering the enigmatic hieroglyphics. The Egyptian style became the height of fashion, especially among the well-to-do bourgeoisie. This fascination with the culture of ancient Egypt led to the production of innumerable works of art and other objects in an ‘Egyptianized’ style: sculptures, buildings, decorations, books, paintings, murals, drawings and even furniture. Wealthy citizens happily surrounded themselves with Egyptianized exotica. Victor Werner: I found this bookcase in Lucca in Italy, in the house of an antiquarian friend of mine. Getting him to part with it took quite some doing. The bookcase comes from Bangkok, where my colleague had come across it amidst a pile of junk. An Egyptianized bookcase from Southeast Asia, decorated with hieroglyphics. Thereby surely hangs a tale. Victor Werner enlisted the help of Professor Dr Eugène Warmenbol of the Université libre de Bruxelles, an Egyptologist whose doctoral thesis was on the topic of Egyptomania. After more than a century, the display case was about to give up its secrets.
In the inscription on the front left we found the cabinetmaker’s name: ‘Joseph’, with ‘Birouty’ or ‘Beyrouthi’ as a surname or place of origin. Who this individual was, we’ve not yet been able to discover. In 1991 a piece of furniture came up for sale that had similar decorations by the same hand, but nothing more was known. In the only available photograph, which appeared in the Architectural Digest that year, the hieroglyphic script is illegible. Very probably ‘Joseph’ worked in Paris – the name of the city is also mentioned – but we’re not one hundred per cent certain. Below the name is a date, 1907, the year in which the bookcase was made. We also know where its maker found his inspiration for the design and the decorations – the two-volume richly illustrated Atlas de l’art égyptien (Atlas of Egyptian Art) by Émile Prisse d’Avennes, which was published in instalments between 1858 and 1877 and was hugely successful, likewise among artists and decorators. Now you no longer had to go all the way to Egypt before you could make Egyptianized objects. Henri Verbuecken used the same Atlas in 1901 when he carried out the restoration of the Elephant House in Antwerp Zoo, for instance. It’s built to resemble an Egyptian temple. As to the bookcase, its general shape was almost certainly derived from the niche of the mammisi or ‘birth-house’ at Dendera (vol. Architecture, pl. 53). Thanks to the images of royal heads in profile we can also specify the very plate in the Atlas. On the left side of the bookcase are the heads of Amenhotep III and his first consort Queen Tiye. Prisse d’Avennes copied these from a Theban tomb. On the other side are the profiles of King Taharqa, portrayed as the god Amun, as he is on the colonnade he erected at Karnak, and Tausert, a queen from the nineteenth dynasty. 88 I ART-A
◆ Egyptianized bookcase 1907 280 x 175 x 67 cm
A Little Bit of Egypt in the Far East victor werner The name and profession of the person for whom ‘Joseph’ made the bookcase are also revealed by the long inscription on the right: ‘Parmentier’, it reads, and adds that he was an ‘architect’. Following these details is ‘Siam’, the old name for Thailand. Surprisingly, after the name we read ‘Maha Chulalongkorn’, a title borne by the king of Siam. This brings us to the architect Henri Parmentier (Paris 1871 – Phnom Penh 1949), who worked in French Indochina from the early years of the twentieth century until his death. He was a pensionary of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), which commissioned him to study the country’s art, architecture and archaeology. The excavations at Angkor became his life’s work. Why Siam should be mentioned in the inscription is something of a puzzle: Parmentier didn’t work in Thailand. Then again, we know that in 1907 King Rama V of Siam ceded territory, including Siem Reap Province, where the Angkor temple complex is located, to
Cambodia – or, more accurately, to what was then French Indochina. Before that date Parmentier’s beloved Angkor had indeed been in Siam.
◆ Design for a mantelpiece Attributed to Pierre François Eugène Marion (19th century) Drawing on paper mounted on canvas 230 x 170 cm
Whatever the case, Indochina was Parmentier’s second home. Among those with whom he had close contacts was Georges Maspéro, one of the two sons of Gaston Maspéro, who was one of France’s most renowned Egyptologists. We know that Parmentier was in Paris in 1907, both for reasons of health and to promote the idea of a colonial exhibition in the Bois de Vincennes. And 1907 just happens to be the year in which the bookcase was built. Presumably it was then that he had it made. Pieces of furniture in the Egyptianized style, even bookcases that allude to the famous library of Alexandria, are not unusual in themselves, but this is the only example from the Far East. It’s no wonder that this extraordinary bookcase will be displayed in the exhibition Edouard and Cleopatra. Egyptomania since the 19th Century, organized by the Boghossian Foundation in the Villa Empain in Brussels.
◆ Pair of neoclassical urns 19th century Bronze with deep green verdigris patina 44.4 x 53.3 cm
Victor Werner Schuttershofstraat 21 - 2000 Antwerpen T gallery +32 3 288 82 32 F gallery +32 3 290 32 56 Mob +32 486 67 79 68
Opening hours_ Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment. email@example.com www.victorwerner.be Facebook 90 I ART-A
The Art of Assemblage J.M. Zeberg – Fine Art
Established in the atmospheric shadow of Antwerp’s Cathedral, Jelva Zeberg and her son Christian Clauwers are continuing the tradition begun in 1946 by mother and grandmother Jenny Zeberg. Through all the years since, quality and authenticity have remained their guiding principles, but the internationally renowned gallery, a fixed presence at major art fairs like BRAFA and TEFAF, also easily accommodates the desires and requirements of a new generation of customers. And those customers like strong and surprising combinations. Zeberg – Fine Art: You can make really beautiful and harmonious groupings with diverse objects from different periods and in very different styles. To our customers, creating such combinations is a way to express their personality. And we help them with that. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to ask for advice about the design of their interior. It is therefore important also to present antique furniture, art objects and contemporary artwork in the perfect environment of their homes. This is a development that suits us very well: we’ve always been known primarily for furniture, sculpture, decorative art and textiles from the haute époque, from the fifteenth to the late eighteenth century. This remains our core business. We also compose harmonious interiors using objects from various periods, creating a spirit and emphasizing the eclectic. Why shouldn’t you be able to combine a beautiful sixteenth- or seventeenth-century Italian piece of furniture with a modern painting or sculpture? The ensemble we’ve created for this book is a quartet. First and foremost is the seventeenth-century walnut credenza from Florence. Standing symmetrically on top is a pair of eighteenth-century French bronze putti and these are flanking a modern white work by the Antwerp artist Paul Van Hoeydonck (b. 1925), Astronaut in Space. Van Hoeydonck is world-renowned for being the first visual artist to have a work of art on the moon: Fallen Astronaut, it’s called. Art is closely followed by space travel in his list of passions. Van Hoeydonck is currently being revaluated, in the MuHKA here in Antwerp and elsewhere too. He’s an important representative of European pop art, though he has received more recognition abroad than in his own country. We’ve completed the grouping with a work by Christian Dotremont (1922-1979), who like Pierre Alechinsky was one of the leading Belgian COBRA artists.
◆ Walnut credenza, Italy (Florence), 17th century Pair of bronze putti, France, 18th century Astronaut in Space, Paul van Hoeydonck, 1965, mixed technique Untitled, Christian Dotremont, Indian ink, 56.5 x 73 cm
Dotremont often worked in black ink, creating a mixture of poetry and drawing. Two anonymous pieces by seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury Italian and French craftsmen and two twentiethcentury works by Belgian artists... Together they form an entirely new whole. That’s the beauty of the ars combinatoria we practice here.
“You can make really beautiful and harmonious groupings with diverse objects from different periods and in very different styles.”
We like to include twentieth-century art in our assemblages, especially the big names – Paul Delvaux, the recently deceased Bram Bogart, Van Hecke, Dotremont, Lucebert, Guiette… René Guiette (1893-1976), who was born in Antwerp and was one of Belgium’s best abstract painters, often exhibited with René Magritte. In 1991 the Mercatorfonds published a prestigious catalogue raisonné
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The Art of Assemblage J.M. Zeberg – Fine Art
◆ Machine à coudre Rene Guiette 1944 Oil on canvas 55 x 74 cm
◆ Collection of maté cups with original bombillas Chile, Paraguay and Argentina 19th century
of his work. Guiette was very alive to the innovative in art: Expressionism, Cubism, Primitivism, art informel... there are traces of all these movements in his work. Sometimes he tends towards art brut; at others he’s more meditative and sensitive, as indeed he was as a human being. In his later period he became deeply interested in Zen, for instance, and produced several series that incorporated Zen-like symbols.
The René Guiette work we’ve chosen dates from 1944, a period in which he worked like Picasso for a while, producing bold paintings with a bright palette and images that wrongfooted the viewer, thanks in part to his mastery of juxtaposition. In fact it was Guiette who opened our eyes to Picasso here. That year, 1944, also marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War. It was a bitter time for Antwerp. René Guiette lost his only son when the Rex Cinema was bombed.
J.M. Zeberg – Fine Art
Opening hours_ Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m.
Vleminckstraat 3 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 345 40 37
firstname.lastname@example.org www.zebergfineart.com 94 I ART-A
The nineteenth-century collection of maté cups is made from gourds and coconut, and each cup has its silver bombilla (straw). They symbolize things like hospitality, friendship, solidarity, and so on. They’re used for drinking maté, a South American tea-like beverage. Maté-drinking was a kind of ritual and it’s still an important part of social life. A gourd like this would be passed round in an anticlockwise direction, being drained to the last drop by the members of the party and then refilled. This was all done with great ceremony.
We know from the literature that the indigenous Guarani were the first to drink maté and that the Spaniards discovered the plant in Paraguay in 1592. They soon realized that the drink that was made from it had healthy and stimulating properties. The use of the plant was widely promoted, especially by the Jesuits, and it came to be cultivated in many parts of South American. Maté also became known abroad. For a long time it was an important export product for Paraguay. Continue with the same professionalism, but innovate as well, go with the ideas of the customers and make quirky combinations: I think that nicely sums up our business and our goal.
Timeless Dolls J. Zeberg / Roald van Reusel
“Sometime you see Spaniards and Italians buying objects that they let go of long ago for next to nothing because they’d fallen out of fashion, objects which then left the country. The same thing happens in China. If I buy a Mechels popje or ‘Mechelen doll’ in Spain that was made here in Flanders I’m doing the same kind of thing, in a certain sense. And when I think that after all those years I’m bringing a statuette back to where it was once carved and polychromed, that’s a very special historical sensation.”
Roald van Reusel is continuing the business that was founded by his grandmother Jenny and later run by his mother Grethe. Their family name – Zeberg – is a very familiar one in the antiques world. Vintage 1946, in fact. Much has changed in the antique world in the decades since – the increasingly eclectic taste of the new generation of collectors, the growing importance of fairs and events, changing attitudes to restoration... But there are constants as well: top quality apparently transcends crises, you becomes a good antiquarian by practicing your trade every day, and the Mechels popje enjoys enduring popularity. Roald van Reusel: It’s one of the things we’re known for. Their attraction does indeed seem timeless. The popjes are actually wooden statues of saints between 28 and 36 centimetres in height. For their context we must go back to the sixteenth century. That was a golden age for the Southern Netherlands. There was a lot of money about and much of it went on art and culture; the Church was wealthy and spent lavishly. The little statues were sometimes made to a patron’s order. They were placed in a convent or monastery, or a chapel or béguinage rather than a church and rarely if ever in the home, if you ask me. In that period people used things like Mechelen-made alabaster panels for private devotion. Most of the popjes – I’d say about ninety per cent – were made in Mechelen, which was a prosperous and thriving town at that time and a centre of wood carving, especially of free-standing figures. Antwerp and Brussels were better known for their altarpieces. So it’s not surprising that the little saints came to be referred to as ‘Mechelen dolls’.
◆ St Catherine c.1530 Mechelen Walnut with original polychromy 30 cm Marks: ‘III’ and ‘M’
What you do see now and then is a form of crossover: statues that were obviously carved in Mechelen but have a Brussels polychromy. They were also exported in large numbers, to Spain and elsewhere, in the same way that you find Flemish altarpieces all over Europe. That traffic was really busy. Some workshops or workshop apprentices even relocated to southern Europe to make popjes there. Sometimes we find good-quality original popjes in southern Europe and we always try and buy them back if we can.
“The popjes continue to be very popular, especially among the Flemish and Dutch, and also the Spanish”
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Timeless Dolls J. Zeberg / Roald van Reusel Ninety-five percent of the statuettes we buy come from private owners. Sometimes there’s a little luck involved, but people know now that we have a special liking for these figures and they’ll contact us themselves. Before offering a popje for sale we often have to have a small amount of restoration work carried out – removing overpainting where possible, cleaning, restoring the figure as closely as can be to its original state... Things were very different a few decades ago: it was sometimes assumed that these statues were originally unpainted and in some cases their polychromy was ruthlessly stripped off. It’s a terrible shame. It’s rarely possible to trace the makers of the popjes but many were stamped with two warrant marks, one guaranteeing the quality of the sculpture and a second guaranteeing the polychromy. A mark with three pales means essentially that the statue was carved in Mechelen, that it’s a sixteenth-century piece and that it was made ‘officially’ – that a form of tax was once paid on it, in other words. You also find beautiful unmarked pieces. An expert eye can pick out the top quality without much trouble.
The popjes continue to be very popular, especially among the Flemish and Dutch, and also the Spanish. They don’t seem to have quite the same attraction for the French, Americans and British. They usually represent female saints – the Virgin and Child, St Anne with the Virgin and Child, Catherine, Barbara – but occasionally there are male saints too, Peter, John, Dominic and of course the naked Christ Child with the temporal orb in his hand. Some buyers are very keen on finding their titular saint, but that’s not easy. Roald Van Reusel, who is a furniture restorer by training, deals not only in wood sculpture but also in decorative objects, textiles and furniture from the late fifteenth to the eighteenth century. Roald Van Reusel: To me the essential thing is beautiful objects – objects that can be grouped and combined. I see that exceptional, special pieces of furniture are still popular with many customers and I’ve specialized in Spanish, French and Italian furniture. Which generally means furniture in walnut. That’s a wood that acquires a very nice patina over the centuries. Furniture in this material has a particular allure.
J. Zeberg / Roald Van Reusel
Opening hours_ By appointment only.
T +32 3 233 82 30 Mob +32 475 70 44 78
email@example.com www.zeberg-antiques.com 98 I ART-A
◆ Lady’s writing desk First half of the 18th century Italy, Veneto Wood with original polychromy 78 x 114 x 69 cm
The lady’s writing desk I’ve chosen for the catalogue comes from the Veneto, the region around Venice. From the provinces, therefore. I say that advisedly, because you can see that it’s a ‘provincial’ piece of furniture. The model is eighteenth century, likewise the original chinoiserie painting: scenes from nature, pastoral landscapes. A bit Boucher-like, but with oriental influences. At the same time this desk still has some of the stylistic traits of the seventeenth century – like the simple mouldings around
the drawers, the shape of the drawers, the feet... In other words, this is literally a transitional model. Evidently in the provinces they were still attached to tradition while the polychromer was already au fait with the latest fashion. Call it a clash between two styles. I think it’s a delightful piece of furniture; you can see that it’s had a life... The younger generation of buyers prefers lighter combinable furniture, and this desk falls perfectly into that category.
A Gallery is like a Palette galerie De Zwarte Panter
In recent years, galleries have played a crucial role in the development of Belgian art – and successfully so. Since 1968 Adriaan Raemdonck has organized some 500 exhibitions in De Zwarte Panter gallery and numerous ‘Panter publications’ have appeared. In fact De Zwarte Panter is more than a gallery: it’s a concept, a meeting place, a locus with history where art is created and partitions between disciplines are demolished. Adriaan Raemdonck is highly respected in the sector and far beyond... He also thinks about the future.
Adriaan Raemdonck: From the start I’ve worked with artists in whom I see something and whom I also admire. If I believe in an artist then I'll support him or her, even if it goes against the prevailing grain. Hence De Zwarte Panter’s strong relationship with artists like Fred Bervoets, Jan Vanriet, Nick Andrews, Michel Buylen, Ysbrant, Marc Kennes, Frans Heirbaut, Jan Cox, Benjamin Demeyere, Guy Leclercq, Frank Maieu, Herman Selleslags, Frieda Van Dun and Frank Wagemans, to name just some of them. To me that adds an extra dimension to the gallery work. I’ve never been much inclined simply to do what one’s supposed to do at any given moment.
◆ Welcome Home - De val van Fred Fred Bervoets 2012 Raised etching with acrylic on paper 200 x 316 © Photography Hugo Maertens - Bruges
“I always wanted to be close to the artists, to be more than a gallery, to offer the gallery space as a temporary studio in some cases.”
Dr Hugo Heyrman is a good example of that. He’s an avant-garde artist who has experimented with all kinds of media, including film and video. In the 1960s he and Panamarenko organized happenings in Antwerp and they produced joint works. That has not always been made clear. Heyrman has never really wanted to be centre stage, but he’s always been faithful to what he felt he had to do in his evolution as a creative and enquiring artist, often moving in a completely contrary direction to the trend of the time.
◆ Liquid Tree Dr Hugo Heyrman 2012 Acrylic on canvas 200 x 130 cm
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Back in 1975 I had an exhibition with him that showcased his series of paintings about the Belgiëlei – it was called De Waarneming Waarnemen or Perceiving the Perception – in a period when for an artist painting was pretty much artistic suicide. Painting was declared dead and regarded as outdated. Well, I’d say there’s more paint put on canvas today than ever before. This is not something that desperately depresses me, you understand... Heyrman has always been a conceptual artist; his work is based on a huge amount of research. It’s realism, but a realism that’s always mediated by his instinctive perception of that reality. He makes you look at the city and the details of city life differently, the way people stand and move, how they talk to each other, their body language, a handbag, an atmosphere, the clothes, the seasons... I think that’s a great merit in an artist. In the past, Heyrman has sometimes been taken for an anecdotal painter but he’s so much more than that. Believe me, the day will come when he receives proper recognition in the art world.
Fred Bervoets has been one of De Zwarte Panter’s leading artists from the beginning. Adriaan Raemdonck: I come from the world of Ensor and Brusselmans myself and I think Fred fits in there too. He has a permanent space of his own here so his work is always present. Fred is complementary to Jan Cox, whose work is intense, spontaneous and has great expressive resourcefulness. It’s as if he’s spent his entire life battling it out with the material in order to reshape it into a new world. When he works with acid directly onto a zinc plate he’s like an alchemist, a magician almost. It’s a very ticklish technique – and he’s the only artist in the world who uses it. It was developed in the biotope of this gallery. The prints are made in Roger Van Akelijen’s studio. I always wanted to be close to the artists, to be more than a gallery, to offer the gallery space as a temporary studio in some cases. In my opinion a gallerist should have a palette of artists, just as an artist has his own palette of colours. That’s also why I’ve opted for following certain artists. I’ve no cause for complaint, particularly when you see how painting is flourishing again, especially among young people. It shows yet again how you never get to the end of it.
A Gallery is like a Palette galerie De Zwarte Panter Sculptor Etienne Desmet is another artist who’s been associated with De Zwarte Panter since the 1970s and whom Adriaan Raemdonck has always believed in: It’s a bit the same story as with the painting: works in precious materials were supposedly an anachronism and would be replaced by the latest materials. But look at the powerful symbolism of recent bronzes by Desmet, which are permanently installed here in the courtyard. The two oversized clenched fists are called Power. Desmet likes to work with this kind of enlargement. He mostly works in Cararra marble, as he did for his De familie Desmet in de hemel (The Desmet Family in Heaven) at the Middelheim Museum, but he works just as well in bronze, steel and wood. I’m not so much a theorist but I do have visual acumen and I follow my intuition. Works of art should speak for themselves to some extent; they should surprise and be expressive; they should have individuality and they should affect the viewer. Which is not to prevent others theorizing and reflecting, obviously; theories have an absolute added value and they get a debate going. True beauty never perishes; good things always hold their own and are timeless and innovative. This may be a small country but it’s blessed with a large number of very good artists – it’s one of the places in the world where there’s a lot going on art-wise. If you look at the international successes our art has... We’ve got a lot of art-lovers and a lot of collectors in this country. But the last thing we should do now is sit back and take it for granted. We have to work with the government and the art world to go on creating possibilities for the artists, collectors and gallerists of the future. I’m thinking of things like taxation, art criticism, the media... Hence my commitment to our sector on both a national and a European level in my role as president of BUP, Belgium’s union of modern and contemporary art galleries, and FEAGA, the Federation of European Art Gallery Associations.
galerie De Zwarte Panter Hoogstraat 70/74 - 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 233 13 45 F +32 3 231 38 12 Mob +32 474 54 54 72
◆ Power Etienne Desmet Bronze
Opening hours_ Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1.30 p.m. till 6 p.m. And by appointment.
Over the years I’ve met many fascinating people among the artists, the curators, the critics, the collectors and those who are simply interested... Being able to do that is a privilege. Art is so important to our thinking and our society
as a whole, certainly for a dynamic city like Antwerp. After all, it’s not just the cultural heritage of the past that attracts so many foreigners to this city, is it? It’s the dynamism of the contemporary art that’s going on here as well.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.dezwartepanter.com 102 I ART-A
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Kleine markt 9 B-2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 293 63 18 www.bien-soigne.be
Graanmarkt 13 B-2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 337 79 91 email@example.com www.graanmarkt13.be
Hanzestedenplaats 1 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 338 44 00 F +32 3 338 44 44 MAS@stad.antwerpen.be
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Suikerrui 24 B-2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 226 29 70
Lange Gasthuisstraat 11 B-2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 226 92 92 www.verso.com
Leuvenstraat 32 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 260 99 99 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wapper 9-11 2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 201 15 55 F +32 3 227 36 92 email@example.com
Sir Antony Van Dijck
Oude Koornmarkt 16 B-2000 Antwerpen T +32 3 231 61 70 www.siranthonyvandijck.be
Middelheimlaan 61 2020 Antwerpen T+ 32 3 288 33 60 F +32 3 288 33 99 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bezoekersingang: Cornelissenlaan Postadres: Hooftvunderlei 160 2100 Deurne T +32 3 360 52 52 - F +32 3 360 52 53 email@example.com
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V.U. : F. Peene, Fortis Bank nv, Warandeberg 3 - 1000 Brussel – RPR Brussel – BTW BE 0403.199.702.
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18/07/12 I15:19 107
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M. & M. BASCOURT
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Meer dan 30 jaar hebben Michel en Mireille Bascourt als stichtend lid actief deelgenomen aan de Opendeurdagen van Antiquairs Antwerpen. artexpert - deskundige Met ingang van dit jaar willen zij zich beperken tot de EXPERTISE en het SCHATTEN van antiquiteiten en hun handel in exclusief CHINEES PORSELEIN en DELFTS AARDEWERK.
M. & M. BASCOURT
Meer dan 30 kunt jaar hebben Michel en doen Mireille Bascourt alservaring stichtend aan devoor Opendeurdagen van Na afspraak u blijvend beroep op veertig jaar dielidzijactief graagdeelgenomen ten dienste stellen het schatten van Antiquairsvoor Antwerpen. inboedels verzekeringen of verdelingen en regelingen van schadegevallen. artexpert - deskundige Met ingang van dit jaar willen zij zich beperken tot de EXPERTISE en het SCHATTEN van antiquiteiten en hun handel in exclusief CHINEES PORSELEIN en DELFTS AARDEWERK. Voor contactname raadpleegt u onze website www.bascourt.be of via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Na afspraak kunt u blijvend beroep doen op veertig jaar Meer dan 30 jaar hebben Michel en Mireille Bascourt als Meer dan actief 30 kunt jaardeelgenomen hebben Michel en doen Mireille Bascourt alservaring stichtend actief deelgenomen aanstellen devoor Opendeurdagen van van ervaring die zij graag ten dienste voor het schatten stichtend lid aan de Opendeurdagen Na afspraak u blijvend beroep op veertig jaar dielidzij graag ten dienste stellen het schatten van Antiquairsvoor Antwerpen. inboedels voor verzekeringen of verdelingen en regelingen van Antiquairs Antwerpen. Met ingang van dit en jaarregelingen willen van inboedels verzekeringen of verdelingen schadegevallen. Metbeperken ingang van willen zij zich tot de EXPERTISE en het SCHATTEN antiquiteitenraadpleegt en hun handel van schadegevallen. Voorvan contactname u onze zij zich totditdejaar EXPERTISE enbeperken het SCHATTEN website of via e-mail email@example.com van Voor antiquiteiten en hun handelu onze in exclusief CHINEES in exclusief CHINEES PORSELEIN en DELFTS AARDEWERK. contactname raadpleegt website www.bascourt.be of via www.bascourt.be e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org PORSELEIN en DELFTS AARDEWERK. Na afspraak kunt u blijvend beroep doen op veertig jaar ervaring die zij graag ten dienste stellen voor het schatten van inboedels voor verzekeringen of verdelingen en regelingen van schadegevallen.
Schuttershofstraat 2 | Huidevettersstraat 46-52 | b-2000 Antwerpen #2 # 46 # 52 tel. 03 231 98 99 tel. 03 231 21 39 tel. 03 S c h u t t e r s h o f s t r a a t 2 | H u i d e v e t t e r s s t r a a t 4 6 - 5 2 | b - 2 0 0 0231 A n98 t w98 erpen
MECHELSESTEENWEG 17 - B-2018 ANTWERPEN
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Michel et Mireille Bascourt ont pris la décision de ne plus participer aux ‘Portes-Ouvertes’ des “Antiquaires-Anversois” malgré le fait qu’ils en fassent partie depuis plus de 30 ans comme membres fondateurs. A partir de cette année, ils ont décidé de se consacrer exclusivement à l’EXPERTISE et l’ESTIMATION d’Antiquités et au commerce spécialisé de PORCELAINES de CHINE et FAÏENCES de DELFT. N’hésitez pas à faire appel à leurs connaissances résultant Michel et Mireille Bascourt ont pris la décision de ne plus de 40 ansaux d’expérience en la des matière. Ils restent à votre participer auxet‘Portes-Ouvertes’ des “Antiquaires-Anversois” Michel Mireille Bascourt ont pris la décision de ne plus participer ‘Portes-Ouvertes’ N’hésitez pas à faire appel à leurs connaissances résultant de 40 ans d’expérience en la matière. Ils“Antiquaires-Anverrestent à votre disdisposition, uniquement sur rendez-vous, pour l’estimation malgré le fait qu’ils en fassent partie depuis plus de 30 ans sois” malgré le fait qu’ils en fassent partie depuis plus de 30 ans comme membres fondateurs. position, uniquement sur rendez-vous, pour l’estimation de vos biens en vue d’assurance ou partage ainsi que pour le de vos biens en vue d’assurance ou partage ainsi que pour le comme membres fondateurs. partir de cette ils ont A partir dede cette année, ilsAont décidé de seannée, consacrer exclusivement à l’EXPERTISE et l’ESTIMATION d’Antiquités règlement dommages. dededommages. décidé de commerce se consacrer exclusivement à l’EXPERTISE et etrèglement et au spécialisé de PORCELAINES de CHINE FAÏENCES DELFT. Consultez: www.bascourt.be ou contactez nous: firstname.lastname@example.org l’ESTIMATION d’Antiquités et au commerce spécialisé de ANT-AGENDA2011.indb Consultez : www.bascourt.be ou contactez nous : email@example.com PORCELAINES deà CHINE et FAÏENCES DELFT. Michel et pas Mireille ont pris lade décision de ne plus aux ‘Portes-Ouvertes’ desIls“Antiquaires-AnverN’hésitez faireBascourt appel à leurs connaissances résultant departiciper 40 ans d’expérience en la matière. restent à votre dissois” malgré le fait qu’ils en fassent partie plus dede 30vos ansbiens comme fondateurs. position, uniquement sur rendez-vous, pourdepuis l’estimation en membres vue d’assurance ou partage ainsi que pour le A partir dede cette année, ils ont décidé de se consacrer exclusivement à l’EXPERTISE et l’ESTIMATION d’Antiquités MECHELSESTEENWEG 17 - B-2018 ANTWERPEN règlement dommages. et au commerce spécialisé de PORCELAINES de CHINE et FAÏENCES de DELFT. www.bascourt.be - Tel. 03 233 71 20 - firstname.lastname@example.org Consultez : www.bascourt.be ou contactez nous : email@example.com N’hésitez pas à faire appel à leurs connaissances résultant de 40 ans d’expérience en la matière. Ils restent à votre dis108 I ART-A position, uniquement sur rendez-vous, pour l’estimation de vos biens en vue d’assurance ou partage ainsi que pour le
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# 52 tel. 03 231 98 9 27/09/10 14:16
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Het is nu tijd om uit te vinden wat de werkelijke waarde van uw eigendom is! Engel & Vรถlkers Antwerpen Centrum Leopoldstraat 49 โข Tel. 03-233 24 00 AntwerpenCentrum@engelvoelkers.com www.engelvoelkers.be
116 I ART-A
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Een hond kan meer dan blaffen! Dankzij de hulp van een geleidehond kunnen blinde en slechtziende mensen zich veiliger verplaatsen. Het Belgisch Centrum voor Geleidehonden vzw wil hen helpen. Onze belangrijkste doelstellingen zijn:
Het kweken en opleiden van honden tot blindengeleidehonden Visueel gehandicapte personen leren omgaan met hun geleidehond. Blijvende nazorg verlenen aan de hond en de geleidehondgebruiker. Het Belgisch Centrum voor Geleidehonden werd opgericht vanuit een reële behoefte bij blinde en ernstig slechtziende personen aan professioneel opgeleide honden. Het leidt professioneel honden op. Een geleidehond die werkt, draagt een harnas met een beugel. Via deze beugel voelt de baas wat de hond doet. Een geleidehond vermijdt obstakels: vuilniszakken, fietsen, palen, verkeerd geparkeerde auto’s, onverwachte werken, enz… Een geleidehond zoekt op commando: het zebrapad, een deur, een trap, een brievenbus, enz… De hond is de navigator, zijn baas is de piloot. Een piloot met een letterlijk ’blind’ vertrouwen in zijn navigator. Dankzij de hulp van een geleidehond kunnen blinde mensen zich zelfstandiger, sneller, meer ontspannen, maar vooral veiliger verplaatsen. Een zelfstandige en veilige mobiliteit is het recht van elke burger in onze maatschappij. Blindengeleidehonden opleiden vraagt een bijzondere aanpak en aandacht. Onze toekomstige geleidehonden worden zorgvuldig gekweekt en uitgekozen uit speciaal voor dit doel geselecteerde bloedlijnen. Als een pup zeven weken oud is, wordt hij in een pleeggezin geplaatst. Het pleeggezin neemt de hond overal mee naartoe, laat de hond met alles kennis maken: bus, trein, winkels, verkeer, markten, theater, vergaderingen, sport, enz… De pleeggezinnen worden begeleid vanuit ons opleidingscentrum. Als de hond ongeveer een jaar oud is, begint de eigenlijke opleiding in het centrum. Dit gebeurt door professionele instructeurs. Deze opleiding duurt 8 tot 10 maanden. Vervolgens volgt dan nog een opleiding van vijf weken samen met de geleidehondgebruiker. Daarna zorgt het BCG voor de nodige opvolging van de geleidehond en zijn nieuwe baas. De professionele opleiding van blindengeleidehonden kost uiteraard geld. De vraag van kandidaat geleidehondgebruikers is zeer groot. In sommige gevallen kan een visueel gehandicapte persoon beroep doen op een overheidstoelage om zijn hond te betalen. Deze toelage is echter verre van toereikend. Wij zullen, ondanks de beperkte middelen, blijven ijveren voor een professionele aanpak van de opleiding van blindengeleidehonden. Wij zijn ervan overtuigd dat de integratie van blinde personen een heel stuk gemakkelijker wordt dankzij de hulp van een professioneel getrainde geleidehond. @ M. Insolera
Wilt U meer informatie over het BCG vrijwilliger of pleeggezin worden een gift overmaken een legaat vastleggen U kan steeds terecht op volgend adres: Belgisch Centrum voor Geleidehonden vzw Maastrichtersteenweg 64 3700 Tongeren Tel: 012/23 43 19 Fax: 012/39 41 24 E-mail: email@example.com Rek. Nr.: 068-1055016-71 IBAN: BE49 0681 0550 1671 BIC: GKCCBEBB
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Bedankt voor uw waardevolle steun
ShowcASeS & MuSeuM equiPMenT
The Art of Transparent Perfection
Qube is de merknaam voor naadloos verlijmde stolpen met een hoge transparantie en kwaliteit. Dikwijls worden die aangeboden op een sokkel in MDF of staal. Hierbij krijgt U een perfect betaalbare oplossing waarbij het object steeds centraal staat.
De Frank vitrine is een unieke, gepatenteerde en volledig demonteerbare constructie. Ze is volledig op maat verkrijgbaar zoals de Qube en kan bovendien op slot. Het feit dat ze snel gemonteerd/gedemonteerd kan worden is een troef voor uw beurzen of reizende tentoonstellingen. Dit is de ideale oplossing voor grotere volumes. Verlichting en tabletten zijn verkrijgbare opties.
Promuseum InternatIonal Vanaf nu kan U bij ons terecht voor meer dan 3500 artikelen die alle musea en (tijdelijke) tentoonstellingen dagelijks gebruiken. Iedere antiquair of galerijhouder heeft wel eens nood aan de aangeboden producten op onze nieuwe website/cataloog online: www.promuseuminternational.be
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Kanaal Becoming a City in the Country
— View towards Silos — To discover your apartment in this Axel Vervoordt project visit www.kanaal.be or call +32 3 355 38 00
Published on Oct 19, 2012
Published on Oct 19, 2012
Tradition and innovation: the strength of our society rests on their combination. And it’s no different in the Antwerp art and antiques busi...