Flemish Art: Past and Present

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2021) | Viewed by 33094

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Baruch College, City College of New York, New York, NY 10010, USA
Interests: contemporary art; Flemish nationalism; the Great War; exhibition narrative

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Guest Editor
Independent Curator and Writer, Brussels, Belgium
Interests: contemporary art; estates; exhibition history; public and private collections

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Flemish art is traditionally understood to mean a style of art, particularly painting, as it developed in Flanders and northern France during the fifteenth century. The label of “Flemish” as it pertains to a geographical or political region has changed considerably since Belgium formed as a nation state in 1931. Consequently, “Flemish” as an identifier has meant different things to a variety of communities within Belgium. In this Call for Papers, we understand Flemish to mean art that relates to or is created in Flanders—as defined by the geographical region of what is now part of contemporary Belgium. Authors are not required to frame subjects as “Flemish” through political or social constructs, although that is certainly an option. Possible topics may include, but are certainly not limited to, a specific artist or artistic collaboration, issues surrounding representation, a specific time period, the current market for Flemish art, collecting practices, or museums and other institutions dedicated to Flemish art.

The Special Issue will be composed of a balance of open and invited contributors reflecting a range of topics. Proposals are encouraged from all those with an interest in Flemish art including artists, academics, art administrators and managers, art institutions, and students. Research articles, review articles, and short communications are invited. 

Arts (ISSN 2076-0752) is an international peer-reviewed open access journal published quarterly online by MDPI in March, June, September, and December. For Special Issues of the journal, all APCs of contributions authored or invited by the Guest Editors will be fully waived.

We invite abstracts for a Special Issue of Arts, titled “Flemish Art: Past and Present.” The title of this issue is intentionally broad. Please send an abstract of approximately 500 words to Guest Editors Ann Cesteleyn ([email protected]) and Karen Shelby ([email protected]) by 24 April 2021. Authors should include a title as well as the name, contact details, and affiliation (if applicable) of the speaker, and a short biography (150 words). Authors will be notified of outcomes by 15 May 2021. Accepted papers will be submitted directly to Arts on 15 October 2021.

Dr. Karen Shelby
Dr. Ann Cesteleyn
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Flemish “primitives”
  • contemporary art
  • colonialism
  • collections
  • Flanders
  • Flemish contemporary theater

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 233 KiB  
Article
After the Wave, the Flood? Finding a New Autonomy and Relation to Work
by Kristof van Baarle
Arts 2022, 11(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11040074 - 2 Aug 2022
Viewed by 2901
Abstract
How do changes in the perception of the arts stemming from activism, government policies, precarity and the ongoing crises unfolding in the world affect the autonomy of the artist? In this article, I analyse three cases of young and emerging theatre makers in [...] Read more.
How do changes in the perception of the arts stemming from activism, government policies, precarity and the ongoing crises unfolding in the world affect the autonomy of the artist? In this article, I analyse three cases of young and emerging theatre makers in Flanders and Brussels that each deal with the economic, social precarity of the arts, as well as the general precarious state of the world. Camping Sunset, Ne Mosquito Pas, and Anna Franziska Jäger and Nathan Ooms each explore new ways of maintaining autonomy, be it by collective collaboration, creating a network and an aesthetics of failures and cynicism or a performance of overpositivity and a revaluation of the comic. My claim is that these artists find autonomy in the ‘making’ of a work itself, placing poetics back at heart of artistic work instead of performance. I argue that their poetics can be described as a poetics of inoperativity (Agamben), which places resistance and criticality on the level of making theatre and performance itself instead of making large societal claims. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
13 pages, 2727 KiB  
Article
Quatre Peintres Belges au Travail: Paul Haesaerts’s Film on Edgar Tytgat, Albert Dasnoy, Jean Brusselmans and Paul Delvaux (1952)
by Joséphine Vandekerckhove
Arts 2022, 11(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11010036 - 18 Feb 2022
Viewed by 3465
Abstract
Belgian art historian and filmmaker Paul Haesaerts (1901–1974) made a significant contribution to the promotion of modern Flemish art. In the late 1940s, he started experimenting with the medium of film to practice a new form of lens-based art criticism. The understudied documentary [...] Read more.
Belgian art historian and filmmaker Paul Haesaerts (1901–1974) made a significant contribution to the promotion of modern Flemish art. In the late 1940s, he started experimenting with the medium of film to practice a new form of lens-based art criticism. The understudied documentary Quatre peintres belges au travail (1952) presents Belgian artists Edgar Tytgat, Albert Dasnoy, Jean Brusselmans and Paul Delvaux at work in their studio. On a large sheet of glass placed in front of the camera, they each paint one of the seasons that also represent a stage in a person’s life. A close reading of this Kodachrome color film sheds light on the context of mid-century art reproductions, mass media and post-war Flemish culture. It also examines in what way this film operates as Haesaerts’s concept of cinéma critique, while raising questions as to the way Haesaerts attempted to reconcile the spatial art of painting with the temporal medium of film. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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20 pages, 18105 KiB  
Article
What Approach to Flemish Annunciations?
by Thor-Oona Pignarre-Altermatt
Arts 2022, 11(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11010033 - 10 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4693
Abstract
Through a series of case studies, this paper examines Flemish fifteenth and early sixteenth century paintings of the Annunciation in a domestic setting as an example of how the materiality and the spiritual dimension form two inseparable aspects of devotional practice. After questioning [...] Read more.
Through a series of case studies, this paper examines Flemish fifteenth and early sixteenth century paintings of the Annunciation in a domestic setting as an example of how the materiality and the spiritual dimension form two inseparable aspects of devotional practice. After questioning whether these paintings reflect contemporary interiors and practices of domestic devotion, the paper discusses their use as historical sources by addressing the domestic iconography of the Annunciation as a Flemish artistic tradition. It argues that it is necessary to consider these paintings as artworks to understand their primary role as devotional objects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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17 pages, 3341 KiB  
Article
When the Sky Is Low and Heavy: David Lamelas and Transnational Heritage in Flanders
by Elize Mazadiego and Stefaan Vervoort
Arts 2022, 11(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11010024 - 26 Jan 2022
Viewed by 3730
Abstract
In 1992, artist David Lamelas installed Quand le ciel bas et lourd at the temporary exhibition America: Bride of the Sun—500 Years of Latin-America and the Low Countries at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA), a show that explored the cultural, [...] Read more.
In 1992, artist David Lamelas installed Quand le ciel bas et lourd at the temporary exhibition America: Bride of the Sun—500 Years of Latin-America and the Low Countries at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA), a show that explored the cultural, economic, and political exploitation of indigenous America by European forces, and its project of colonization and erasure. Lamelas’ work remained a public installation in KMSKA’s garden until March 2021 when it was dismantled as a result of the museum’s years-long renovation. This article examines the work in the context in which it was exhibited and later destroyed as a lens to examine two aspects of contemporary art and history in Flanders. Firstly, it foregrounds the complex, transnational heritage that Lamelas’ work presents and considers its implications upon the local, cultural scene in which it resided from the 1960s to 70s, in the 1990s and in the present. Secondly, the text frames Quand le ciel bas et lourd and America: Bride of the Sun as reverberating with the emergence of nationalism in Flanders and a global, postcolonial discourse in the art world. This article considers how aspects of Lamelas’ work and its elusive meanings over space and time might challenge monolithic understandings of Flemish art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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20 pages, 4188 KiB  
Article
The Last Flemish Primitive: Jan Vercruysse’s Self-Fashioning of Artisthood and National Identity
by Anton Pereira Rodriguez
Arts 2022, 11(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11010013 - 6 Jan 2022
Viewed by 3583
Abstract
In 1989, the artist Jan Vercruysse (1948–2018) stated that he was “the last Flemish Primitive”. This comment, despite being only a fragment of a lengthy interview with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, became a trope in subsequent writings on Vercruysse. I argue that the statement was [...] Read more.
In 1989, the artist Jan Vercruysse (1948–2018) stated that he was “the last Flemish Primitive”. This comment, despite being only a fragment of a lengthy interview with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, became a trope in subsequent writings on Vercruysse. I argue that the statement was part of a deliberate strategy by Vercruysse in shaping his identity as a (Belgian) artist. First, I focus on Vercruysse’s Portraits of the Artist (1979–1984), a series of photographic works in which he uses the genre of the self-portrait—thereby implicitly referring to the Flemish Primitives—as a means to express the constructedness of artistic identity. Second, I explore Vercruysse’s construction of his identity and his relationship vis-à-vis the notion of Belgian art. Finally, the statement uttered in 1989 will be contextualized within the changing political and cultural context of Belgium and Flanders in the 1980s. I demonstrate how the statement can be read as invoking a radically different conception of Belgian art during this period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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16 pages, 11157 KiB  
Article
Recto and Verso: The Pictorial Fronts and the Marbled Reverses of Two Flemish Panel Paintings
by Kathrin Borgers
Arts 2022, 11(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11010010 - 3 Jan 2022
Viewed by 3246
Abstract
From the first third of the 15th century onwards, panel paintings with marbled reverses increasingly appeared in Flemish art. The fronts of these panels primarily depicted religious narrative scenes or portraits. The backs were decorated with an abstract pattern, referred to as marbling. [...] Read more.
From the first third of the 15th century onwards, panel paintings with marbled reverses increasingly appeared in Flemish art. The fronts of these panels primarily depicted religious narrative scenes or portraits. The backs were decorated with an abstract pattern, referred to as marbling. These painted marble facsimiles often differed in terms of design from other examples of stone imitations such as those used on the frame decorations of other panels. Unlike these frames, which suggest a greater illusionistic intention, the marbled reverses appear to function as abstract ornamentation. However, this article proposes that the painted backs are thematically linked to the pictorial narratives of the fronts. The marbled backs of Rogier van der Weyden’s Crucifixion and the Portrait of Margareta van Eyck will be considered in the context of a profane and a theological iconography. Both panels feature a reverse that can be identified as both an imitation of red porphyry and a representation of liquid paint. Metaphysical, material–semantic, and theological references will be revealed in the pictorial examples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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18 pages, 6817 KiB  
Article
Jan van Eyck’s New York Diptych: A New Reading on the Skeleton of the Great Chasm
by Miyako Sugiyama
Arts 2022, 11(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11010004 - 25 Dec 2021
Viewed by 4707
Abstract
The Crucifixion and Last Judgment, or the so-called New York Diptych, is one of the most controversial paintings attributed to Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390–1441) and his workshop. For well over a century, art historians have vigorously discussed its [...] Read more.
The Crucifixion and Last Judgment, or the so-called New York Diptych, is one of the most controversial paintings attributed to Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390–1441) and his workshop. For well over a century, art historians have vigorously discussed its attribution, composition, functional intent, and even its dating. In light of prior scholarship addressing these remarkable panels, this paper focuses on the skeleton represented in the Last Judgment to reveal its iconographical meanings. Specifically, I highlight the inscriptions written on the skeleton’s wings, suggesting that the texts were cited from an All Saints’ Day sermon delivered by the Burgundian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) who discussed a temporal location for blessed or sinful souls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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19 pages, 5972 KiB  
Article
Linen Boxes and Slices: Raoul De Keyser and American Modernism in Belgium in the 1960s and 1970s
by Steven Jacobs
Arts 2021, 10(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts10040080 - 29 Nov 2021
Viewed by 3662
Abstract
Before his international breakthrough shortly before the turn of the century, Belgian painter Raoul De Keyser (1930–2012) had a long career that reaches back to the 1960s, when he was associated with Roger Raveel and the so-called Nieuwe Visie (New Vision in Dutch), [...] Read more.
Before his international breakthrough shortly before the turn of the century, Belgian painter Raoul De Keyser (1930–2012) had a long career that reaches back to the 1960s, when he was associated with Roger Raveel and the so-called Nieuwe Visie (New Vision in Dutch), Belgium’s variation on postwar figurative painting that also entails Anglo-Saxon Pop Art and French nouveau réalisme. Dealing with De Keyser’s works of the 1960s and 1970s, this article discusses the reception of American late-modernist art currents such as Color-Field Painting, Hard Edge, Pop Art, and Minimal Art in Belgium. Drawing on contemporaneous reflections (by, among others, poet and critic Roland Jooris) as well as on recently resurfaced materials from the artist’s personal archives, this essay focuses on the ways innovations associated with these American trends were appropriated by De Keyser, particularly in the production of his so-called Linen Boxes and Slices. Made between 1967 and 1971, Linen Boxes and Slices are paintings that evolved into three-dimensional objects, free-standing on the floor or leaning against the wall. Apart from situating these constructions in De Keyser’s oeuvre, this article interprets Linen Boxes and Slices as particular variations on Pop Art’s fascination for consumer items and on Minimalism’s interest in the spatial and material aspects of “specific objects”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flemish Art: Past and Present)
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