Gleaming cars, futuristic design, Art Nouveau lines, dinosaur skeletons or contemporary art...Brussels museums have more than one surprise up their sleeves! To celebrate their reopening, Brussels artists and curators tell us of their personal connections with some of Brussels' most iconic collections. Favourites, anecdotes, gems and extraordinary pieces, they take us by the hand to discover a work, a place or an emblematic object that embodies the spirit of their institution!
Publié le 27/05/2020
ADAM Brussels Design Museum
“The Swinging Sixties are a perfect illustration of the dialogue between design and science fiction, which then takes on a new dimension. The feeling of travelling through space while sitting at home becomes the designer's ambition and the consumer's aspiration! Seemingly straight out of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Odyssey of Space, this cabin with its resolutely futuristic look embodies the influence of the conquest of space on interior design. An enclosed and modular space, equipped with the connections and cables necessary for the installation of a television, stereo or telephone, the Isolation Sphere is also an innovative piece of furniture at the cutting edge of virtual technology. As man was walking on the moon, furniture began to be used to redefine the spaces of a home, not just to furnish them.”
Maurice-Claude Vidili, Isolation Sphere S2”, 1971, GRP, mixed media, Les Plastiques de Bourgogne, FRA.
Chosen by Arnaud Bozzini, Director of the ADAM Brussels Design Museum.
"Seemingly straight out of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Odyssey of Space, this cabin with its resolutely futuristic look embodies the influence of the conquest of space on interior design."
“As an activist artist, Keith Haring has been engaged in several important social issues. With this poster, which he designed for the LGBTQ activist group Act up, he contributed to raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS virus that wreaked havoc in New York City in the 1980s. With his characteristic colourful characters and iconic imagery, Keith Haring was able to create strong images that helped break down taboos. The seemingly simple slogan "ignorance = fear, silence = death" said it all, and it resonates especially today, with the emergence of the coronavirus.
I find it incredible that Keith Haring is still so popular in 2020, with young and old alike. For many children and teenagers, this may be their first museum experience. Not a bad one to get acquainted with art, is it? During containment, we received many messages from people who were hoping to continue to visit Keith Haring. After this difficult time, we are very happy to be able to open our doors again and bring hope and smiles to our audience."
Keith Haring, Ignorance = Fear / Silence = Death
Chosen by Sophie Lauwers, Director of BOZAR Exhibitions.
"I find it incredible that Keith Haring is still so popular in 2020, with young and old alike. For many children and teenagers, this may be their first museum experience. Not a bad one to get acquainted with art, is it? "
" Over these last few weeks the top floor of Autoworld, where the more modern and competition cars are displayed, was thoroughly refreshed. All the cars exhibited there now really come into their own, and among them there are a few that really deserve it. Such as this Honda NSX, which has been with us for several years.
The model dates from the period when, for the second time, Honda was active in Formula 1 and claimed various world titles with the McLaren-Honda, in 1989 with Prost and in ’90 and ’91 with Ayrton Senna. The latter also actively worked on the development of the NSX. The model was intended as a strong competitor for the Ferrari 328 and the later 348, equally fast, but more reliable.
The car appeared on the market in 1991 and remained in production in this version until 2005. The model is fitted with a mid-engine unit and the bodywork is inspired on the lines of a modern jet fighter, more specifically that of the F16. An outstanding car, however it never achieved supercar-status: it only had a V6 engine and no V10 or V12, and it hardly aroused any emotions, some even called the model dull … but it is an efficient machine. There is no doubt that it was one of the sources of inspiration for the Ferrari F355. In the United States they were sold as the Acura NSX. "
Chosen by Leo Van Hoorick, Curator at Autoworld.
"The exhibition at WIELS I conceived with Devrim Bayar and Dirk Snauwaert to be fully placed in the here and now, with no chronological order or retrospective vibe. Maybe having this freedom allowed for many older and some of my oldest works to find their way in, sitting next to new pictures in new installations."
Wolfgang Tillmans, artist, about his exhibition Today Is The First Day au WIELS.
“I was already a big Art Nouveau fan at a very young age. I bought my first piece at an auction when I was 17. It was a set of Art Nouveau style crystal oil and vinegar jars. I immediately fell in love with them.
I have chosen the Winssinger armchair, designed by Victor Horta, a master of European Art Nouveau. This piece comes from the town house he designed for engineer Camille Winssinger. For an Art Nouveau architect, the interior and exterior are both part of the same, single work of art. In the dining room, for example, the imposing stained glass ceiling, wall cladding and furniture form a harmonious and elegant whole. Everything has been superbly crafted down to the smallest detail. The armchair is airy and its lines are dynamic and playful. It's an example of structure and ornamentation in perfect harmony.”
Le Fauteuil de la maison Winssinger by Victor Horta, 1894–1897
Chosen by An Lavens, Director of the BELvue Museum.
" I was already a big Art Nouveau fan at a very young age. I bought my first piece at an auction when I was 17. It was a set of Art Nouveau style crystal oil and vinegar jars. I immediately fell in love with them. "
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
" Rembrandt was one of the most influential artists of the “Dutch Golden Age”, which is generally considered to have run from the late 16th century to the end of the 17th. This painting is a portrait of the rich wool merchant and businessman from Amsterdam, Nicolaes van Bambeeck. It is the pendant of the portrait of his wife, Agatha Bas. Both paintings are graced by a trompe-l’œil ebony frame and play subtly with the third dimension by slightly overflowing their fictional space. This expedient also creates the illusion for viewers that their own space communicates with that of the figures in the paintings. Originally, the painted moulding would probably have extended into a similar real frame, which has since been lost. Nicolaes van Bambeeck poses with confidence and distinction and gazes directly at the viewer. Rembrandt’s technical mastery, able to render the most delicate of materials, suggests the realism of the clothing and a respect for the physiognomy of the sitter. The contrasts and play of light so dear to the artist are marvelously represented in this work. In the year that this portrait was executed, Rembrandt was also working on his famous “Night Watch” (1642). "
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Portrait of Nicolaes van Bambeeck, oil on canvas, 1641
Chosen by Michel Draguet, Director of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
" The Aula Magna was the great hall of the Coudenberg Palace. Built over time from the 12th century onwards, this palace took its name from the hill on which it stood - the "Cold Mountain". This exceptionally big room (16m x 40m, giving an open space of 640m²) was built between 1452 and 1460 at the request of the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, but was paid for by the City of Brussels. The latter was anxious to attract the Court of Burgundy, one of the wealthiest and most lavish spenders of its time.
The Aula Magna hosted many exceptional events in European history: diplomatic meetings and banquets, court rulings affecting a large and powerful territory, and also the Emancipation (1515) and Abdication (1555) of Charles V.
Badly damaged by a fire during the winter of 1731, the palace and its great hall vanished from the visible landscape in the course of works to refurbish the royal district and carried out in the late 18th century on the orders of Charles of Lorraine. The remains of the palace then became subterranean. "
Aula Magna, Coudenberg Palace
Chosen by Frédérique Honoré, Director of the Coudenberg Palace.
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
" The story starts at the end of March 1878 at the Bernissart coal mine in Sainte-Barbe. Miners were digging at 322 m when they came across a pocket of clay. Instead of going around it, they decided to go through. Several days later, they made a startling discovery: tree trunks filled with gold! What they had actually found were Iguanodon bones encrusted with pyrite (“fool’s gold”). On 12 April 1878, the Belgian Royal Museum of Natural History (as it was then known) was informed of the discovery by telegram.
A world premiere! About thirty iguanodons were discovered in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium. The dinosaur skeletons were more or less complete and the bones were in the right place. Visitors immediately flocked in from all over the world to see the specimens, presented in a "lifelike" position. They now represent the finest collection of iguanodons in the world, in terms of the quantity and quality of the fossils. "
Chosen by Kareen Goldfeder, Marketing & Branding at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences