In the book “Modernism: Belgian Abstract Art and Europe (1912-1930)”, the Belgian historical avant-garde around 1920 is viewed for the first time from a broader European perspective. Not only did protagonists like Jules Schmalzigaug, Georges Vantongerloo and Marthe Donas establish an immediate link with Italian futurism, the Nieuwe Beelding (or neoplasticism) and post-cubism, but in 1920 Karel Maes, Jozef Peeters and Victor Servranckx began to play a prominent role in European constructivism. The pursuit of a community art was not restricted to visual art, as evidenced by architecture and applied art, but also literature, music and the performing arts. Belgian photography and films were also a reflection of international modernism. In this book Belgiums earliest abstract artists are juxtaposed for the first time with like-minded foreign artists such as Fernand Léger, László Moholy-Nagy, Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg.
Headed up by Dr Johan De Smet, curator of painting at the Museum of
Fine Arts Ghent, a group of experts from home and abroad explore what it is that makes Belgian modernism special.
Johan De Smet is curator of painting at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent.