The exhibition “Modernity à la belge” retraces Belgian Art over more than a century through paintings, drawings and sculptures from the Modern Art collection of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, as well as some invited major art works.
The term Modernity reaches far beyond a certain period in our history of Fine Arts, it stands above all for the enthusiasm of that period. Being initiated at the end of the 19th century by Baudelaire, it embodies an ideal combining technological and intellectual development. Yet it has never stopped causing a stir, generating concepts such as anti-modernity or postmodernity. First, Modernity was rejected for not respecting the legacy of the past; later on, it was said to have led to Nazi barbarism and the technology of death. The question is: which place does Art take in this debate? The artists to be seen in the first part of “Modernity à la belge”, all wanted to influence society: Wiertz, Rops, Ensor, Wouters, Vantongerloo, Servranckx, Magritte,Delvaux, Permeke, Van den Bergh, Alechinsky, Dotremont, Broodthaers and alsoTuymans. Being gathered in a blueprint of a Modern Art Museum, they all translate this preeminent modern spirit, while challenging the often authoritarian Avant-garde.
The second part of the exhibition adds the specific Belgian dimension to this cultural Modernity. Does a Belgian Modernity really exist? How did it arise and under which forms does it continue to live? What is the idea of Avant-garde in Belgium? What can be concluded from the confrontation with major international artists such as Chagall, Rouault, Jorn or Segal? What does “Belgian” Art and “Belgian” Modernity mean? Many questions to be answered by each visitor individually. It is all open for discussion!
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