In the context of BRAFA 2024, the Paul Delvaux Foundation has seized the opportunity to take part in the Year of Surrealism and to shine a spotlight on the great master’s work. In a dedicated space, the Foundation will be offering an insight into the artist’s world through a selection of masterpieces from its own collection and from a private collection on loan to the Paul Delvaux Museum in St Idesbald.

The works on display, dating from the 1930s to the 1960s, reveal the themes dear to Paul Delvaux. The inescapable nature of the female figure is evident from the very beginning of his work, with the intriguing Vénus endormie, without neglecting the importance of the male figure (the man in a suit, the scholar, the ephebe).

The famous painting Chrysis reveals the woman in all her mysterious splendour. The demonic aspect of Delvaux’s paintings is also evoked by his depiction of skeletons, whilst the railway world finds its most beautiful expression in the magical Gare forestière.

Paul Delvaux (1897-1994) lived to nearly 96 years old! He devoted his entire life to creation. Even though his parents had wanted him to be a lawyer, his perseverance and determination finally won them over. He experienced one true love, with the woman who became his lifelong companion, Tam. They were happy and had no children, with the painter considering each painting to be the fruit of childbirth.

In the 1920s and 30s, he tried his hand at Impressionism and Expressionism, before finding his own style close to Symbolism and Surrealism. Delvaux succeeded in inventing such a personal and original world that it is immediately recognisable. From the 1960s onwards, Delvaux enjoyed international recognition (Europe, Japan, the United States, etc.) and was considered one of the major Belgian artists of the second half of the twentieth century, as evidenced by Andy Warhol painting his portrait in 1981.

Paul Delvaux developed a timeless body of work which defied categorisation and transcended passing fashions. Taking root in intriguing elsewhere, each work is none other than the visual concretisation of dreams from his intimate world. He bequeathed his works to us in the hope of taking us on a journey to a world where dreams and reality merge, in a timeless space sheltered from noise, like an invitation to escapism. The Foundation that bears his name was created in 1979, and the museum he helped create opened in 1982 in Saint-Idesbald, near where he lived.

Biography of Paul Delvaux

Paul Delvaux was born on September 23rd, 1897 in Antheit, in the province of Liège. He grew up in a middle-class family in Brussels, studying Greek and Latin. He was fascinated by Jules Verne and Homer’s Odyssey. He was expected to become a lawyer like his father, but this did not appeal to him, so he enrolled in the architecture section of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels.

In 1918, Paul Delvaux had a decisive encounter with the painter Frans Courtens (1854-1943), who recognised the young artist’s potential and managed to convince his parents of his talent. Delvaux was allowed to re-enrol at the Brussels Academy, but this time in the decorative painting section run by the master Constant Montald.

He began by painting the landscapes of the Rouge-Cloître in Brussels, before focusing on stations and trains in 1920-1921. From 1924-1925, figures took centre stage in large, colourful compositions. The representation of nudes marked a new turning point in 1926, with the young man seeking to define his own style. Expressionism reigned supreme, and Delvaux was influenced by it from 1929 onwards. In 1930, he discovered the Sleeping Venus, a wax figure exhibited in the Musée Spitzner at the Foire du Midi in Brussels.

A major transformation took place around 1934 under the combined influence of Giorgio De Chirico and René Magritte. From the former, he retained the importance attached to architecture and the potential of space as a theatrical stage to create an atmosphere. To Magritte, he owes the use of unexpected combinations for poetic purposes, a process intrinsic to Surrealism.

Delvaux combined these different elements in a singular way to reveal his inner world. Henceforth, the construction of the paintings referred to the amalgam of idealised memories of his childhood and the fruit of his obsessions and desires. He created an imaginary world populated by figures, objects and symbolic buildings with which he felt an emotional bond, painting a “fabulous picture in which [he] would live, in which [he] could live.” Although he was associated with Surrealism, which catalysed the creation of his world, he did not commit himself to the movement, preferring solitude to the collective.

He achieved belated but lasting success at the beginning of the 1960s. In 1959, the painter exhibited at the Staempfli Gallery in New York, where he remained until the early 1970s. Interest in these works, populated by women with enigmatic gestures wandering through moonlit landscapes, grew steadily. Although some of the paintings caused controversy – the religious scenes with skeletons – their intrinsic ambiguity found favour with those for whom they were a source of inspiration or admiration, such as Andy Warhol, who came to Brussels in 1981 to meet the painter he considered to be “one of the most famous in the world.”

Surrealism in Belgium

Surrealist activity in Belgium, distinct from but parallel to that of André Breton’s group, spanned three quarters of a century from 1924 onwards.

In 1924, the poets Paul Nougé (1895-1967) and Marcel Lecomte (1900-1966) and the writer Camille Goemans (1900-1960) launched the Correspondance flyers, an original entreprise in the form of subtle warnings to writers, published on coloured sheets.

One of the distinctive features of the Brussels group was already establishing itself: the quest for anonymity, the rejection of an artistic career and the desire to take revolutionary action outside political parties by examining words and images or arbitrarily juxtaposing them to create a metaphorical shift, as in the paintings of Magritte, who joined Nougé’s small group in 1926. The group was completed by the musician André Souris (1899-1970) and the poets Louis Scutenaire (1905-1987) and Paul Colinet (1898-1957).

Unlike the Parisian Surrealist group, Nougé and those close to him always rejected automatic written or verbal expression or pictorial abstraction, preferring to work with everyday objects to create subversive,poetic art. This position led to a number of intellectual conflicts, but also to closer ties, with the Brussels group and the Paris group regularly collaborating on various publications and collective exhibitions.

The painter Paul Delvaux, who was more influenced by Symbolism despite his discovery of the work of Giorgio de Chirico in 1934, appeared to be on the fringes of the movement, rejecting its political aspect, which prompted various attacks from Mariën and Magritte, whose pupil he had been at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts.

Xavier Canonne

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Brafa 2023 / Art Nouveau Theme

For this 68th edition, a theme has been chosen in correlation with the initiative of the Brussels-Capital Region, which will make 2023 a year devoted to Art Nouveau. BRAFA will be highlighting this movement in several ways. 

Some galleries at BRAFA will offer exceptional objects from this movement, including Epoque Fine Jewels, Thomas Deprez Fine Arts, Florian Kolhammer, Galerie Cento Anni, Dr. Lennart Booij Fine Art & Rare Items, Victor Werner, Galerie Mathivet, Galerie Montanari, Marc Heiremans, Galerie Bernard De Leye. Two BRAFA Art Talks will be devoted to this theme, one presented by Benjamin Zurstrassen, curator at the Horta Museum: Brussels 1893, the birth of Art Nouveau and the other by Professor Werner Adriaenssens, curator of 20th century collections at the Royal Museums of Art and History: The King Baudouin Foundation’s Art Nouveau collection. Following a meeting with Benjamin Zurstrassen, curator at the Horta Museum, Beatrix Bourdon, the Managing Director of BRAFA and Nicolas de Liedekerke – Daniel Culot (Volume Architecture) drew inspiration from Victor Horta’s original drawings for the creation of the carpet. These drawings can be found as well on the BRAFA 2023 invitation cards and on the cover of the catalogue.

This will be an opportunity for visitors to rediscover this movement which has experienced an extraordinary development in Brussels. Brief history below.

Art Nouveau was born in the late nineteenth century from certain artists’ and bourgeois aesthetes’ desire to live in a new and refined setting, in reaction to the coldness of a booming industrial world and the classicism of the past.

In 1893, Victor Horta’s iconic building, the Hotel Tassel, was inaugurated in Brussels. Perceived as the founding act of Art Nouveau in the Belgian capital, this first ‘Art Nouveau’ building soon became an example to follow. In January 1893, Paul Hankar (1859-1901), a colleague of Victor Horta (1861-1947), filed the blueprints for his personal residence, often considered to be the first ‘Art Nouveau’ house, in a more geometric style, far removed from the curves propagated by Horta.

In 1894, Henry van de Velde, another leading figure from this period, published ‘Le déblaiement d'Art,’ an inculpatory manifesto against the classicism which reigned unchallenged over the arts at the time. He argued that ‘Art Nouveau’ must be born and inscribed in its time, creating its own style, no longer content to imitate the past. The quest for harmony and comfort must prevail, and the decorative arts must finally be recognised for their true worth.

Beyond its architectural and decorative aspect, Art Nouveau was foremost an ideological current. The artists, architects and craftsmen of the time, alarmed by increasing industrialisation, advocated a return to nature, to the quality and durability of manufactured objects and to beauty as an ideal of life. This ideal had previously been defended by the English ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement, a revival of the decorative arts through craftsmanship.

Although Art Nouveau found its origins in the romantic feeling towards nature, and in the scientific work of the nineteenth century (botany, entomology, etc.), it was also strongly inspired by the discovery of Japanese art. Until early 1850, Japan had remained closed to all outside contact. Japanese art, and Oriental art more broadly, revolutionised Western artistic conceptions. It offered a new form of representation of natural phenomena and of the plant and animal worlds (1).

An important aspect is the rise of the wealthy middle class. They were the visitors to and buyers at world exhibitions and the Salons where new-fangled and avant-garde art (objects) were presented. Those items were intended for the interiors of their new homes whose reception areas were to radiate status (2).

Art Nouveau facades are very visual and decorative, in order to guarantee their own identity. The interiors relied on decoration, warm colours and glass windows which let in as much natural light as possible. The house being a new construction, it was equipped with the latest technologies. In addition, many Art Nouveau architects created all of the house’s equipment themselves, from the furniture to the cutlery and door handles, which is why it is referred to as a ‘total work of art.’

The movement died around 1910-1914.

(1) Based on the text of the Horta Museum written by Françoise Aubry
(2) text of Werner Adriaenssens

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Arne Quinze was born in Belgium in 1971 and currently lives and works in Sint-Martens-Latem, a town near the Belgian city of Ghent. His early career in the 1980s was as a graffiti artist. He questioned the role of our cities and started his search for cities to become open-air museums. His work evolved from street art to public art with recurring themes such as social interaction, urbanisation and diversity. The gigantic wooden construction entitled Uchronia, which he and his team built in the Nevada desert, emphasised his pursuit for culture and nature to coexist. This was followed by numerous sculptures and exhibitions that included both large installations and small paintings and sculptures. At present, many of his installations are considered to be landmarks that present a different dynamic for urban development: Paris; Shanghai; Beirut; Washington, D.C.; Brussels; Mumbai; São Paulo… Quinze has been intervening in cities now for over 25 years, and many projects are still lined up to be finalised.

In each of Arne Quinze’s recent works, we encounter a seemingly chaotic confrontation between individual elements that nevertheless correlate and form an integral part of a biotope that is created in a meticulous way and is multiplied organically. The variety of colours and forms is as wide as the viewer’s imagination. The artist depicts a society as a cohesive and intact ecosystem, a sampling of nature, which is his chief inspiration. In this way, the sculptures and installations call for a retention of diversity and pluralism, and for experimentation and cross-fertilisation. This is a clear indictment of the present trend towards monocultures and soured relations.

Bringing people back together again: according to Quinze, this should be the ultimate objective of public art. After an initial surprising impression, a sculpture is able to refine the threshold of acceptance for the passer-by, by flying in the face of the norm – norms lead only to monotonous grey cities. Just as in the artworks, and just as in nature, cities should aim for a symbiosis of numerous organisms, which in turn fuel conversation and, consequently, the conservation of their future.

In fact, the artist quite literally challenges monocultures. With his garden as a scale model, an explosion of life with the rampant splendour of flowers, the pursuit of variation and diversity is both a statement and a leitmotiv that runs through his work. The fact that we have already destroyed 30 per cent of the existing flora and fauna since Quinze’s birth in 1971 is abhorrent to him. It is in everyone’s interest to protect and restore ecosystems.

The wild lupine flower as a symbol for diversity.
Throughout my many travels, I began to notice that where monocultures geographically started,
the natural wildflower fields stopped growing. The beautiful wild lupine, itself a victim of cultivation, has become my ally in bringing back diversity to our society. She flaunts herself in my garden with her wildflower peers as an inspiration for my oil paintings and metal sculptures.

Arne Quinze

Arne Quinze born 15 December 1971

Arne Quinze was born in Belgium in 1971 and currently lives and works in Sint- Martens-Latem, a town near the Belgian city of Ghent. His early career in the 1980s was as a graffiti artist. He questions the role of our current society with installations and paintings throughout recurring themes as social interaction and diversity.

‘Welcome to my world. Driven by the force of nature and with the urge to create a colourful diverse future.”

An introduction to nature

Discovering the garden and its diverse microcosmos

As a child I grew up in the countryside, my first mentor was the natural world. As a youngster, I played outdoors a lot, in the nearby fields, meadows and woods. Every day I discovered something new. Insects, plants and the countryside all fed my imagination.

Moving to the city

The disappointment of encountering the monotonous

Since my childhood I dreamt about discovering the whole wide world. I imagined how diverse the world was and I could dream away for hours with the thought of how colourful people lived in cities all over the world. At some point, we moved from the countryside to the city. All the diversity I thought I would find in the city just didn’t exist. The city was monotonous and grey.
I felt like my imagination had tricked me.

Graffiti painting saved my life

Fighting the grey monotonous city

This grey-walled, monotonous city that I lived in actually made me fight back. I couldn’t understand how people managed to live in identical rabbit hutches. I became a tough youngster, always looking for new stimuli while feeling the pull of crime. At one point, I cracked and wanted to bring my personal touch to the city. I started with graffiti. The aim was straightforward: to give the city more colour and provoke a reaction.

Finding life’s fulfilment

Being an artist as the only option

After many projects it became clear to me, I was an artist. In the years that followed, I travelled and had the opportunity to work with graffiti artists as Lee, Futura 2000, Lady Pink, Daze & Mode 2. I learned a lot from these experiences, and I decided that my vocation was to bring people out of their lethargy.

Sculptural work

Moving from working in 2D to 3D

In my eyes, the main aim of my creative work was the reaction of people to the works I imposed on them. I learned very quickly that creating public works in 3 dimensions was a powerful way to help the spectator into interaction. I tried hard to convince local municipal authorities to allow me to install big dimensional works in their cities, but at the start my ideas didn’t interest anyone. I never gave up and continued the fight every day to make my dreams come true.

Everything is possible

Guided by Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism

When I discovered artists such as Claude Monet, Willem de Kooning and Max Ernst, a whole new world opened up to me.Their work taught me that anything is possible in your mind and that, as an artist, you can transform your unbridled imagination into a body of work. Studying these masters of the imagination awakened a quest with myself to challenge my imagination further and further. I became my own worst critic.

Exploring the world

Discovering every corner of our precious earth

My curiosity to explore the world has always been a part of me. I see discovering the unknown as one of the most enriching lessons in life. Immersing myself in other cultures, interpreting them and bringing them back in the form of an art piece has brought my work to locations such as the Nevada Desert, Saatchi Gallery London, The Beirut Souks.

My Secret Garden

The creation of my own biotope as a research lab for my work

The more I immersed myself into the power of nature, the more diversity I discovered. Observing the evolution of nature throughout the seasons has become a real addiction for me.
With great attention I started studying the pace of our biological microcosmos in detail. I became a gardener and planted my own biotope of thousands of plants and flowers around my atelier to observe their infinit story daily. Nature has become my counterbalance to culture.

Cities as open air museums

Reclaiming our cities

Cities as open-air museums – it sounds like an idealistic dream, but as an artist I consider it my duty to break out of the educational walls of universities and museums. Our public space, where cars and grey walls rule, is the environment in which I engage myself to help nature to reclaim its diversity. By installing visually chaotic and organically large scale public installations in the city centres of Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Rouen, Brussels, Moscow, Paris, Mons, Valencia, etc,...

Wildflower fields

The wild lupine flower as a symbol for diversity

Throughout my many travels, I began to notice that where monoculture geographically started, the natural wild flower fields stopped growing.The beautiful wild lupine, itself a victim of cultivation, has become my ally in bringing back diversity to our society. She flaunts herself in my garden with her wildflower peers as an inspiration for my oil paintings and metal sculptures.

Mono No Aware

The beauty in decay

While studying the process of the seasons, one particular period struck me for its poetic power.
At the height of summer comes the awareness of transience, the pathos of things. Mono No Aware, a japanese term describing the awareness of the first decay, is the inspiration for my current body of work in which I visually research the fragility of the powerful battle that nature is daily fighting for diversity.

To date, I have been creating work for over 25 years with the aim of encouraging people to re-energise themselves with new insights. Everything is possible, but we must not forget our origins. Since my birth in 1971, more than 30% of our flora and fauna has disappeared because of our human intervention. It is therefore crucial that we give nature a place back in our cities and communities. With my work, I hope to plant a seed in your mind and inspire you to join me in rethinking our society and to empower nature.

I wish you a colourful journey through my works

Arne Quinze

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The five segments of the Berlin Wall that will be auctioned off at BRAFA 2020 - © Raf Michiels

The 65th BRAFA art fair, which will take place from 26 January until 2 February 2020, will be celebrated in a highly original manner with the exclusive exhibition and sale of five segments of the Berlin Wall. The proceeds from the sale will be split among five beneficiaries (associations and museums) in the areas of cancer research, the social integration of people with disabilities and the preservation of art heritage. This initiative is only possible due to BRAFA’s nonprofit status which it has retained for 65 years and allows for greater investment in the arts and support of other non-profit organisations.

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Left: Gilbert & George - BEARD MAD (2016) - Image courtesy Gilbert & George, White Cube and Albert Baronian
Right: Early morning. The Artists set out for breakfast at Jeff’s Café in nearby Brune Street. Seated are the Artist’s friends George Crompton and Tara McKerr. Image courtesy Gilbert & George and White Cube.

BRAFA is proud to welcome this year the internationally renowned duo Gilbert & George. Having started out as performance artists, they became famous for their large-scale photo pieces. These are often in very bright colours with superimposed black gridlines evoking the windows of yesteryear. The images are contemporary and immediately recognisable, with most placing portraits of both artists in the picture. Although their art draws inspiration from (their) daily life, the vision they offer is in turns metaphysical, mystical, or polemical, but always with a touch of humour and conveying a message. At Brafa they will present five recent large-scale works that will be placed at various spots throughout the fair. Their quirky vision of the world is sure to be a hit in the land of surrealism!
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Gilbert & George celebrate becoming BRAFA's Guest of Honour in 2019...



Join us for an exceptional lecture of Gilbert & George in conversation with Michael Bracewell on Thursday 24 January from 12 noon to 1 pm at Tour & Taxis, Auditorium Brussels Environment
Order your tickets here


Left: Christo in his studio with Three Store Fronts, New York City, 1966. Photo Ferdinand Boesch
Right: Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for The Mastaba, New York City, 2012. Photo Wolfgang Volz

BRAFA 2018 has the great honour of welcoming one of the most renowned and influential contemporary artists in the person of Christo. Along with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, the inseparable duo has come to be known in particular for their wrapping of historic monuments and large-scale landscape installations. It is one of his historic work from the 1960s that will be presented at BRAFA.

The work specially chosen by Christo for BRAFA is titled Three Store Fronts (1965-66). This sculpture was first displayed at the municipal Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Later it was included in the exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Early Works, 1958-69 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 2001. More than 14m long and 2.5m tall, it will also be the largest work ever on show at Brafa!

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Born in 1928, a pioneer of Op Art and Kinetic Art, a founder member of G.R.A.V. (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel), winner of the international Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice 1966 Biennale, Julio Le Parc is a forthright, committed artist.

His abundant work, in its many forms, imbued with a spirit of research and experimentation, explores the visual field, movement, light, and the relationship between the work and the viewer.

The tribute to Julio Le Parc at BRAFA will consist of the inclusion of 4 works at strategic points of the Fair; a large-scale Continuel Mobile from 1963 at the main entrance to the Fair, with Surface Couleur, a 1970 acrylic on canvas, at the centre, and, finally, two Sphères, with diameters of 2.10 m, on each patio at the ends of the aisles. These works will integrate with great impact into the general design of the Fair, which will be taking Kinetic Art as its theme.

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BRAFA is proud to announce its 2016 Guest of Honour: Ghent Floralies
22.04 > 01.05.2016

In the spring of 2016, Ghent will be a new, dazzling city festival richer with the Ghent Floralies. For 10 days, flowers & plants, floral art, inspirational gardens and art installations will take over the Arts Quarter in Ghent.

The very first flower and plant exhibition took place in 1808 at an inn in Ghent and has gone through a spectacular metamorphosis of growth and evolution since then. In 2016, the Floralies is leaving the Flanders Expo halls for its 35th edition and returning to the City of Ghent with a dazzling flower and plant festival: leading national and international florists, ornamental growers, landscape architects and artists will carry on a dialogue based on constantly differing perspectives with unique, prestigious city locations at the four sites of the Arts Quarter (the Bijloke site, the Leopold Barracks, Saint Peter’s Square and Citadel Park). The event, with its world-class creations at all 4 sites and the invigorating green and floral pop-up accents along the pathway, offers an unforgettable green experience in the city.
Moreover, this brand-new edition will also, for the first time in the existence of the Floralies, be paying special attention to the integration and interpretation of flowers and plants in modern art installations. The Floralies is therefore very proud to be a guest of honour at the prominent 2016 Brussels Art Fair: both eclectic events consider top quality and authenticity to be of paramount importance.

A VIP visit to the 2016 Floralies
The Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany (KMLP), organiser of the Ghent Floralies, cordially invites you to come and admire the results of this intense interaction between architecture and green in Ghent in April 2016. We offer fans the possibility of attending this exceptional cultural event with international allures within a fabulous all-in 2-day deluxe VIP package. This also includes a visit to an art gallery in Ghent. For more information about the package, please contact Christel De Cock (christel.decock@floralien.be) or Frédéric De Backer (info@viparrangementen.com).

Come and get a preview of the 2016 Floralies at Brafa
Before the time actually comes, the Floralies is treating the Brafa public to a preview this winter. In honour of this prominent art and antiques trade fair, leading florist Mark Colle will be creating a number of stunning winter floral creations within the halls of Tour & Taxis. The showpiece is a colourful, airy floral installation incorporating red berries and vibrantly coloured tropical flowers, which will be located at the entrance. Dynamism and transparency: these are the keywords.

When: from Friday, 22 April to Sunday, 1 May 2016, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (no entrance permitted after 9 p.m.)
Where: Arts Quarter Ghent (the Bijloke site, the Leopold Barracks, Saint Peter’s Square and Citadel Park).
More info: www.floralien.be/en


René Magritte, La fée ignorante ou portrait d’Anne-Marie (detail), painting of the Gillion Crowet collection. © Charly Herscovici, with his kind authorization – c/o SABAM-ADAGP, 2011, Photo : Vincent Everarts

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, BRAFA is honouring the Belgian collector in a selection by the King Baudouin Foundation
On the occasion of the 60th Brussels Antiques and Fine Art Fair, the organisers have chosen to honour “The Belgian Collector”. Breaking with its tradition of inviting a museum or cultural institution, BRAFA is honouring the Belgian collectors whose collaboration it has so valued over all these years. BRAFA asked the King Baudouin Foundation to select and present a number of private collections that demonstrate the quality and diversity of private collections in Belgium.

Visitors to the fair will thus have the opportunity to discover old and modern paintings, silverwork, tribal art, pieces of decorative art and old drawings. All are important works that have never, or only rarely, been exhibited. They can be described as the ambassadors of the ten or so collections represented, each of which has been assembled not only with great passion by the collector, but also with a love for our heritage.

The Foundation has selected collections whose owners expressed a particular desire for them to be left in total or partial perpetuity, in museums or elsewhere, in Belgium or abroad.

The collector has always cared about our heritage. Indeed, from the 19th century, collectors were key actors in saving and handing down our heritage and many public collections were born out of a private donation. Public bodies carried on the tradition, though mainly with an educational role in mind. From this point in time, the development of two types of collections could therefore be observed: the one public, with more of a scientific research objective, and the second private, reflecting the life and personality of the collector. These days, we can observe a certain rapprochement between these two types of collection as public collections turn increasingly to the private collector, sometimes temporarily, sometimes definitively, with a view to completing the story they wish to tell.

BRAFA and the King Baudouin Foundation would like to express their grateful thanks to the collectors who have agreed to participate in this project. Belgium is often described as a country of collectors and it is hoped that the presentation created by the King Baudouin Foundation at BRAFA will offer visitors to the fair a moment of special pleasure and perhaps also the inspiration to start their own collection.


The 'Singular Collections' of the Royal Museum for Central Africa at BRAFA
The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) is this year's guest of honour at the Brafa. The museum is very grateful for this privilege and is delighted to present several ‘Remarkable Collections’ that have been chosen for the event.

The RMCA is one of the most fascinating institutions devoted to Africa. The museum is housed in a colonial building, now a protected heritage site, where it exhibits unique collections dedicated to the natural and social sciences. The RMCA is also a research institute that carries out numerous scientific projects across Africa.

On 1 December 2013, the museum will close its doors to allow for extensive renovation works that will last about three years. The building dates back to 1910 and still exudes a very particular charm, but the permanent exhibition and the infrastructure need to be adapted to meet the needs and requirements of a modern museum. The biggest challenge is to turn the RMCA into an international, appealing, dynamic institution that reflects the Africa of today while retaining a sense of the building’s past, with the collections acting as bridges between the museum and the public.

The Royal Museum for Central Africa is thrilled to offer Brafa visitors this special encounter with its collections, some of which were instrumental in forging the museum's reputation, while others – no less famous – helped develop images and representations of Africa. A selection of themes directed the choice of collections. The chosen pieces are not necessarily the most famous, but each object or specimen is striking not only for its aesthetic qualities but also for its singularity, its rarity and, of course, its history.

Guido Gryseels
General Director


Royal Opera House De Munt
La Monnaie is delighted to be the guest of honour at Brafa 2013. It is a sterling opportunity to show yet again the extent to which opera is an art form open to all and a direct link to the world.

In 2013, the “Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie” will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its current form as the National Opera of Belgium. Known today under the name of La Monnaie/De Munt, our institution is a sign of federal Belgium: it is also the opera house of Brussels, the capital of Europe. It has moreover established itself as a major stage in the international opera circuit, as its productions usually elicit accolades in the specialised press. It is therefore an ideal cultural showcase and an ambassador of our country in Europe, as attested by the title “Opera House of the Year” conferred in 2011-2012.

It therefore made sense for Brafa and La Monnaie to join forces: these two institutions are keen on and explicitly geared to promoting, preserving and presenting works of art to the public by insisting on the importance of the creation and the beauty of the works.

A spearhead of tradition and innovation, of quality and expertise, La Monnaie is teeming with activities with nearly 400 permanent employees and many guest artists (conductors, singers, directors, set designers) who are working tirelessly to rediscover the opera repertoire and to stage an audacious and committed interpretation for today’s public.

This public interested in both ancient and contemporary art is that encountered in large numbers at the Brafa; the quality and diversity of the offer are guaranteed as much at Brafa as at La Monnaie!

2013 will also be the year of three great opera composers: Benjamin Britten, born 100 years ago, and Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner born 200 years ago. La Monnaie, the symbol of opera par excellence in Belgium, is therefore very proud to be present at this edition of the Brafa.

On that occasion, you are cordially invited to discover, in the space reserved for La Monnaie, the chandalier of Charles Kaisin: his Pteron is a flight of some 2,000 origamis, gilded paper doves. This work of art, which draws inspiration from the large old chandelier hanging from the ceiling of La Monnaie, was made possible thanks to many hands in Saint Gilles Prison in Brussels, who folded these origamis. Whereas movement brings this impressive aerial installation to life, light turns it into an abstract, fragmented landscape that scintillates at the slightest breath of air. For Charles Kaisin, this Pteron is a symbol of freedom, peace and refinement.

The Pteron installation has been kindly made available by Mr and Mrs Amaury de Solages, of the Maison Particulière.

With the support of the Circle of Maecenas of La Monnaie:
Mr and Mrs Daniel Lebard
Mr Roberto Polo
Mr and Mrs Alain Mallart
Mr and Mrs Erol Kandiyoti
Mr and Mrs Hans C. Schwab
Mr and Mrs Gilles Silberman

La Monnaie moreover invites you to guided tours of a “Monnaie promenade” at the Brafa site. General director Peter de Caluwe selected some ten works of the Brafa that echo the theme of the season: “Desire, Secret & Fragility” which tries to map through art, and opera in particular, human passions in all their multiplicity, complexity, contradictions, etc… all this confusion of feelings that we discover in ourselves and in others, which forces us to question our identity. A guide will be at your disposal every day at the stand of La Monnaie as of 2pm to accompany you through this tour through emotions…

Finally, La Monnaie has the pleasure of welcoming you in its premises for a guided tour of the theatre and the workshops: you will discover, with your own eyes, the various trades that contribute to turn an opera score into a total artwork. Guided tours are scheduled every day at 5pm at La Monnaie during the Brafa.

That said, the experience of opera on stage supersedes all else. La Monnaie has consequently conceived an exceptional cooperation with the Brafa; visitors to the fair will be eligible for an exceptional ticket price for the production of Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini (24 January to 8 February). They will moreover be able to take out mid-season tickets known as “La Monnaie as a gift” comprising four shows: two operas (either La Dispute and Così fan Tutte; or Lucrezia Borgia and Pelléas et Mélisande), the opera Roméo et Juliette in concert form, and a concert or a recital of their choice.

The Brafa and La Monnaie wish you a highly artistic 2013!


The King Baudouin Foundation: serving Belgium's heritage for 25 years
This year, the King Baudouin Foundation's Heritage Fund is celebrating its 25th anniversary in style as guest of honour at the 2012 BRAFA! The Fund is taking advantage of this special occasion to exhibit the centrepieces of its collection together. These pieces represent only a part of the collection but they reflect perfectly the quality and diversity which constitute its wealth.

Over the years and thanks to numerous donations, the Fund has been able to build up a collection of great value comprising some 7,000 works of art and 6 archives. Among others, the collection comprises works including furniture designed by Victor Horta, Gustave Serrurier-Bovy and Jacques Dupuis; the drawings of Lambert Lombard and Christian Dotremont; paintings by de Jacob Jordaens, James Ensor, Félicien Rops, Louis Van Lint, Bram van Velde and Fernand Khnopff; jewellery by Philippe Wolfers and Henry van de Velde and sculptures by Artus Quelinus and Michiel van der Voort. All of these works of art have been entrusted to 20 public institutions across the country rendering them accessible to everyone.

Since its creation 25 years ago, the Heritage Fund has gradually become one of the foremost players in heritage. In addition to its role in conservation and making works accessible to the public, the Fund is increasingly consulted as an intermediary to facilitate initiatives to safeguard our heritage. Together with the King Baudouin Foundation's Centre for Philanthropy, the Fund works with sponsors wishing to invest in the field of heritage and develop flexible and sustainable solutions.

Celebrating 25 years of service to our heritage is thus an occasion dear to our hearts. Our grateful thanks go to the organisers of the antique dealers' fair and to all of those who support us in our passion for heritage.


One man's amazing collection
The Museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp is dedicated to the marvellous art collection that Fritz Mayer van den Bergh (1858-1901) accumulated. The collection, housed in a neo-gothic house from the early 1900s, comprises more than 3000 art objects: valuable paintings – including the well-known Mad Meg by Pieter Bruegel the Elder – fabulous medieval sculptures, delicate ivory carvings, illuminated manuscripts – such as the exceptional Mayer van den Bergh Breviary – as well as choice examples of applied art.

The museum opened its doors to the public in 1904, three years after the premature death of Fritz Mayer. It thanks its existence to the efforts of his mother Henriëtte van den Bergh. She commissioned the building of the house and donated it, together with the collection, to the regency council in 1906. Since 1956 Museum Mayer van den Bergh has been one of the Stedelijke Musea of Antwerp.

As guest of honour at BRAFA 2011, Museum Mayer van den Bergh will, as a rare exception, exhibit some twenty works of art outside of its own walls. The selection was made to reflect the rich variety of the collection. In addition to an intimately painted The Adoration of the Shepherds by Jacob Jordaens and an antiquities-styled Maria-Magdalena by Jan Gossaert, the life-size portraits of the Vekemans family are real eyecatchers, a unique series of five portraits of a wealthy Antwerp businessman, his wife and three of his four children. The series was painted around 1624 by famed portrait painter Cornelis de Vos. From the extensive collection of sculptures ranging from the twelfth to the eighteenth century, a fourteenth-century marble angel from a French atelier was chosen, two beautiful oak-wood angels from the entourage of Rogier van der Weyden and two adorable putti by eighteenth-century sculptor Walter Pompe.


The Museum of the City of Liège
In June 1939, the Third Reich put up for sale at the Galerie Fischer in Lucerne a set of 125 major works from the history of modern art which came from German public collections, on the grounds that these belonged to a degenerate form of art which was incompatible with Nazi ideology and aesthetics. Within a few weeks, many collectors and some towns had gathered together the funds needed to buy these masterpieces; these towns included Basle, Lintz, Harvard, Paris, and … Liège.

The City of Liège, armed with 1,000,000 Francs (of which only 100,000 were actually spent!) purchased nine unique paintings by Picasso, Chagall, Gauguin, Franz Marc, Oscar Kokoshka, Max Liebermann, Marie Laurencin, Jules Pascin, and Ensor. The City of Liège, whose museums and galleries are the guests of honour at BRAFA 2010, is making this a special occasion by presenting, for the first time, eight of the nine works purchased in Lucerne. It so happens that while the BRAFA is on, James Ensor's "Death and the Masks" is headlining the exhibition dedicated to this Ostend master at Orsay, so it cannot be displayed here.

A prestigious stand will be specially built for the occasion, under the expert sponsorship of Galère BAM, the main contractor for the work on the magnificent Grand Curtius, the flagship Liège museum which was opened in March 2009. This exceptional presence at the BRAFA of the Liège masterpieces from the Lucerne sale prefigures the major exhibition "Les Poubelles du Reich", which is to be held for the inauguration of the new Centre International d'Art et de Culture marking the transformation of the present Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC) in the Parc de la Boverie in Liège. This centre, which will put the Cité Ardente firmly on the major international exhibition circuit, will be the result of architectural design applied to the very fine present-day building, a relic of the 1905 universal exhibition, after major work carried out thanks to the European ERDF fund, which will be starting in 2014.

The aim sought by the management of the City of Liège museums in this initiative is to make the public, art lovers, collectors, conservators and sponsors aware of this ambitious, costly exhibition, the design of which is already under way.


Extrait tiré « Des Mécènes pour Liège » par Pierre Henrion, Liège, 1998.

Dès le début des années '30, les dirigeants du Parti nazi se montrent hostiles aux recherches des avant-gardistes artistiques. Quand, en 1933, Adolf Hitler est nommé chancelier, une véritable campagne de « désinformation » est mise sur pied afin de déprécier les créations dites « dégénérées ». C'est surtout l'expressionnisme qui est visé. Dans la seconde moitié de la décennie, une commission dirigée par Ziegler et patronnée par Goebbels est chargée de collecter dans les musées allemands les pièces qui ne correspondent pas à l'esthétique officielle du Parti. Plusieurs milliers d'œuvres sont détruites. D'autres sont cédées, comme les 114 pièces mises en vente à la Galerie Fischer de Lucerne en juin 1939.

Grâce à Jules Bosmant, Liège est représentée à la vente de Lucerne. La critique d'art parvient en effet à y intéresser l'échevin libéral Auguste Buisseret qui, quant à lui, convainc un groupe de mécènes de participer à l'opération. Ce groupe, constitué sous le nom d'Amis des Musées liégeois, est représenté par le baron Paul de Launoit, commissaire général du Gouvernement auprès de l'Exposition internationale de l'Eau, directeur à la banque de Bruxelles et de la Société Ougrée-Marihaye, et de Louis Lepage, directeur de l'Azote. Jean-Paul Depaire (Les achats de Lucerne, dans Le syndrome Picasso, Liège, 1990) retrace avec beaucoup de détails toutes les étapes de notre affaire.

Dans Souvenir d'un ancien Belge, Bosmant explique qu'en juin 1939, le Collège des Bourgmestre et Echevins de la Ville de Liège l'envoie à Lucerne afin, « par son intermédiaire, de délimiter autant que faire se pouvait, les secteurs d'intérêt de chacun, de modérer ainsi les enchères, et dès lors d'alimenter le moins possible, en devises étrangères, le trésor nazi, dont la proche utilisation faisait peu de doute ». Muni du rapport que Jules Bosmant tire de son expédition, Buisseret obtient de l'Etat une importance subvention.

Le Conseil communal approuve à l'unanimité l'engagement de la Ville. Cette dernière contribue pour 35% à l'achat des œuvres, l'Etat à hauteur de 30% ; les mécènes assument les 35% restants et avancent la totalité des sommes nécessaires.

La délégation liégeoise en Suisse est composée d'Auguste Buisseret, de Jacques Ochs, directeur de l'Académie et conservateur du Musée des Beaux-Arts, d'Olympe Gilbart, conseiller communal libéral et professeur d'histoire de l'art à l'Université, et d'Eugène Beaudouin, chef de division à l'administration communale et directeur du Service d'Aide aux Artistes. Ils sont accompagnés d'Emmanuel Fischer, directeur du Contentieux à l'Azote, représentant des mécènes et responsable des sommes avancées.

Neuf tableaux sont acquis pour 109 600 francs suisses auxquels s'ajoutent les 15% de frais prévus, ce qui donne 126 040 francs suisses, soit 834 952 francs belges. C'est l'achat le plus important jamais réalisé à Liège. Toutes les peintures sont des chefs-d'œuvre d'artistes à l'époque déjà célèbres et dont la notoriété ne s'est depuis ternie en aucune manière. Ce sont les fleurons du Musée d'Art moderne et d'Art contemporain : La famille Soler de Pablo Picasso, Le Sorcier d'Hiva-Oa de Paul Gauguin, Les masques et la mort de James Ensor, Monte-Carlo d'Oskar Kokoschka, La maison bleue de Marc Chagall, Portrait de jeune fille de Marie Laurencin, Le déjeuner de Jules Pascin, Le cavalier sur la plage de Max Liebermann et Les chevaux bleus de Franz Marc.

L'examen des budgets de la Ville de Liège entre 1939 et 1946 montre une dépense totale de 355 361,65 francs pour les « achats de Lucerne ». La même somme a été offerte par les « Amis des Musées liégeois ». Quant à l'Etat belge, il a versé un montant total de 310 460 francs. Cette distribution correspond à celle prévue à l'origine.

L'ensemble des apports s'élève donc à 1 021 183,30 francs soit 186 231 francs de plus que le coût des tableaux de Lucerne. Cette somme est en fait consacrée à des achats d'œuvres à Paris. Bien des marchands et collectionneurs y sont, à la fin des années '30, prêts à négocier à très bon prix. Le 1er août 1939, Ochs, Buisseret et Gilbart sont dans la capitale française et, le 11 août, La Meuse annonce l'achat de neuf tableaux. Il s'agit de Fleurs de Maurice Vlaminck, Le moulin de la Galette de Maurice Utrillo, Ecluse du moulin de Bouchardon d'Armand Guillaumin, Château de Comblaz de Paul Signac, Projet de vitrail de Marcel Gromaire, Violoniste de Kees Van Dongen, Coquillages de James Ensor, Nu d'Alexandre Picart Ledoux et Port d'Anvers 1906 d'Othon Friese.


Gerald Watelet


This pair of magnificent tapestries depicting the story of Alexander the Great belongs to the Princes Doria Pamphilj Collection in the Palazzo del Principe in Genoa. They are spectacular not only in terms of composition and design, but also in their technical aspect and colour palette. They are unquestionably among the finest examples of 15th century tapestries to survive.

The first tapestry illustrates the adolescence of Alexander, when he tames his stallion Bucephalus and wins his first military victories. This episode culminates with the crowning of Alexander by his dying father. Alexander's further illustrious deeds unfold on the second work, where Alexander conquers an oriental city with his troops. His later adventures are even more extraordinary: he explores the skies in a cage, drawn by griffons, then subsequently descends to the ocean's depths in a glass vessel, and finally journeys to the end of the world, inhabited by wild men and dragons. Alexander's rich costumes and weaponry are intended to evoke the splendour and refined civilisation of the Burgundian period in contrast with the more coarse portrayal of the oriental characters, depicted as barbarians with their long beards. The present pair of tapestries was probably produced in the Tournai workshops of Pasquier Grenier around 1460, during the golden age of the tapestry industry in this city. Archival documents indicate that Pasquier Grenier supplied several tapestry sets of the Legend of Alexander, not only to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, but also to Italian Princes.

These two tapestries form a monumental complete set of almost 20 m long and most likely belonged to Admiral Andrea Doria, who led Charles V's fleet in his ongoing battle with the Turks for supremacy in the Mediterranean.

Both hangings were in very poor condition and were difficult to read. The Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Mechelen have successfully managed to restore these hangings, thanks to the generous support of the Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique. A subtle aerosol cleaning and overall stabilisation of the threads have returned both tapestries to their former splendour.

Anna Rapp Buri and Monica Stucky-Schürer Authors of "Burgundische Tapisserien", Hirmer Verlag München, 2001, a reference work on 15th century tapestries, and of the exhibition catalogue.