Belgian painter and printmaker.
Brusselmans started his artistic career as a commercial engraver and lithographer. In 1897 he entered the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels to develop these skills. However, an impressionist-exhibition at La Libre Esthétique (1904) presenting works of Seurat and Cézanne shifted his interest from graphic art towards painting.
In 1911 he joined the circle L'Effort (Auguste Oleffe, James Ensor, Léon Spilliaert and Jos Albert) and became friends with the Brabant Fauvists. The long lasting influence of Cézanne and his fauvist friends led Brusselmans towards a very individual conception of Fauvism with typical broad, rectangular brush strokes.
In 1921 Brusselmans participated in his first one-man show in Antwerp at the Galerie Breckpot. At this time his style changed. His desire to simplify volumes and planes became striking. All shades of colour disappeared to give room to plain, basic tones applied with a single brush stroke. He developed a strong Expressionist style, which he presented in peasant scenes, landscapes, interiors and still-lifes.
In the 1930s Brusselmans career peaked. He joined the circle of the Compagnons de l'Art and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels organised the first retrospective of his oeuvre. The young generation of painters admired Brusselmans for his remarkably structured work and his desire to emphasize forms through thick contour lines. The almost geometric structure of his paintings was contrasted by the sensitivity and delicacy of his colours.
During the Second World War Brusselmans desire to paint declined until he died in Dilbeek, Belgium in 1953.
Catalogue raisonné in preparation
The Georges Giroux art gallery – founded in Brussels in 1912 – was one of the focal points of art and culture in Belgium in the 20th century. Giroux, a native Frenchman, followed the traditions of renowned galleries in Paris such as Durand-Ruel and Bernheimer. Like his French counterparts he organised exhibitions all around the year featuring both national as well as foreign artists. A unique way to promote art in Belgium !
Giroux was one of the early supporters of contemporary Belgian artists. His close friend, the author Jules Elslander, introduced him to the artistic circles of Brussels. By visiting the ateliers of local painters and sculptors Giroux laid the foundation for his collection and set the ground for his collaboration with promising artists such as Rik Wouters. By organising individual as well as group exhibitions, the Galerie Georges Giroux quickly became an important milestone in the career of the so-called Fauvistes Brabancons.
But Giroux was also a frontrunner in representing international modern art movements. He introduced artistic currents which were never seen before in the Belgian capital. Already in May 1912 he exhibited works of the notorious Italian Futurists. In the same year his gallery featured paintings of the Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky whose works were a clear demonstration of his revolutionary shift towards abstraction. The conservative art press as well as the public of Brussels were shocked. The leading Belgian newspapers refused to publish articles about the gallery.
While some exhibitions and shows in the Galerie Georges Giroux were clearly ahead of its time, more traditional art deriving from Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism also found its place in the Gallery’s repertoire. This was mainly due to economic reasons. In order to keep the gallery running Giroux had to sell works of widely accepted artists.
Besides his passion for art Giroux was a smart businessman influencing many areas of artistic and cultural life in Brussels. He acted as consultant to collectors buying and selling paintings, furniture, fine antiques and jewellery. He published books and organised concerts as well as conferences. In 1916 he even started art auctions in his gallery.
Georges Giroux already died in 1923. His wife, an experienced shop owner herself, took over his business until the 1930ies. Finally Giroux’s nephew, Georges Willems led the gallery successfully in the spirit of his uncle until its closure in 1960.
The Galerie Georges Giroux
Monograph in preparation
Belgian painter and decorative artist.
At the age of ten Lemmen already demonstrated his unique talent at his first exhibition in Termonde, Belgium. In the following years his style was significantly influenced by the Belgian symbolist Ferdinand Khnopff. In his twenties Lemmen’s palette started to lighten up and his motives became more modern as he adopted the Impressionist style.
Seurat’s magnificient painting Dimanche Après-midi à la grande Jatte en 1887, which Lemmen studied at the exhibition Cercle des XX, triggered his interest in pointillist technique. His favourite motives became portraits, interiors, fairs and landscapes.
In the 1890s Lemmen was attracted by decorative art and began to design ceramics and tapestries. Early on his ornaments were figurative, but around 1895 he developed a new and individual calligraphy reflecting the influence of Art Nouveau movement.
Troubled and always questioning his artistic achievements he focused again on painting at the turn of the century. Previous influences and his experience with decorative art made him receptive to the style of the Nabis school. In 1906 he started depicting intimate bathing scenes with elaborated figures.
Admired by his Belgian contemporaries Lemmen kept doubting and questioning his talent until the very end of his life.
Catalogue raisonné in preparation
Belgian painter and sculptor
1831 Naissance de Constantin Meunier, peintre et sculpteur, un des artistes belges qui ont marqué son temps, la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle.
1845-1854 Études poussées de dessin et de sculpture à l’Académie des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, pour finalement abandonner totalement le modelage pour se tourner vers la peinture.
1857 Expose au Salon de Bruxelles Les sœurs de la Charité. Influencé par Charles Degroux, il se consacre d’abord à des peintures religieuses puis historiques en privilégiant le monde des humbles.
1868 Fait partie des membres fondateurs de la Société libre des Beaux-Arts qui s’oppose à l’art académique et revendique la possibilité d’exposer autrement que dans les salons officiels.
1878 Date importante dans sa vie, il découvre au cours d’un séjour dans la région de Liège le monde industriel, métallurgie, verreries, charbonnages. Ce sera une révélation : . « Je suis frappé par cette beauté tragique et farouche. Je sens en moi comme une révélation d’une œuvre de vie à créer », écrira-t-il bien plus tard. Dès ce moment-là, il se tournera presque uniquement vers le monde du travail – ouvriers, pêcheurs, paysans – pour réaliser son œuvre tant en peinture qu’en sculpture.
1882-83 Une mission à Séville pour l’État belge, lui permet de découvrir une Espagne haute en couleurs tant au sens littéral du terme que par son folklore, courses de taureaux, flamenco, etc. Il en rapporte de nombreux dessins et quelques grands tableaux.
Fin 1883-début 1884 Se remet à la sculpture qui jusqu’à la fin de sa vie restera son principal mode d’expression.
1884 Fondation du groupe des XX. Constantin Meunier n’en fut jamais membre mais participa à de nombreuses expositions ainsi qu’à La Libre Esthétique qui prit la suite des XX.
1886 Vif succès du Marteleur au Salon de Paris, particulièrement louangé par Octave Mirbeau et Gustave Geffroy. Rodin qu’il avait sans doute connu dès le séjour de ce dernier à Bruxelles, le reconnaît comme l’un de ses pairs et leur amitié se poursuivra jusqu’à la mort de Meunier.
1887-1897 Obtient la charge de professeur de peinture à l’Académie des Beaux-Arts de Louvain qu’il gardera jusqu’à 1896. Délivré en partie de ses éternels soucis financiers, il produira énormément durant cette période.
1896 Une grande rétrospective chez Samuel Bing, à Paris, conforte sa notoriété et lui procure une certaine aisance à lui qui avait toujours tiré le diable par la queue. Il fut dès cette époque recherché internationalement et participa à de nombreuses expositions à l’étranger particulièrement en Allemagne et en Autriche.
1899 Il se fait construire une maison et un grand atelier, à Ixelles (commune faisant aujourd’hui partie du grand Bruxelles) qui deviendra en 1939 le musée Constantin Meunier où l’on peut toujours voir l’essentiel de son œuvre.
Dès les années 1880, il songe à un Monument au travail dont il avait terminé les divers éléments à sa mort mais qui après de nombreuses tergiversations ne vit le jour qu’en 1930 où il fut érigé à Laeken.
1905 Mort de l’artiste dans sa maison de la rue de l’Abbaye. Dès la fin de l’année une salle entière lui est consacrée au sein de « L’exposition rétrospective de l’art belge » qui se tint dans l’un des halls du palais du Cinquantenaire.
Dutch painter and draftsman.
Willem Paerels made his first steps towards art as a young apprentice in the workshop of his father – a decorator. At the young age of 16 he had left his native Delft (Netherlands) to study painting in the Belgian capital, Brussels. He did not appreciate the traditional art classes at the Academy of Fine Arts and has searched for inspiration far from the academic life. Paerels has found the liberty of expression in the “ateliers libres”. Being in urgent need for money he could not pursue any longer his career as a painter and has found an employment as a designer of furniture and ornaments for garments.
A stay in Paris, where he studied impressionist works, made him an art enthusiast again. Paerels started to paint with new energy and complete devotion. He isolated himself on the Brussels city outskirts and spent entire days with studies of light and the search for the harmony of colours. From 1900 on he mastered to render perfectly the transparency of light, his palette was light and the colours bright.
Soon afterwards a tendency for the use of pure colours and the straightforward fauvist style started to show. His first steps in the world of exhibitions in 1902 were therefore harshly criticized. The paintings with their avant-garde perception of light and colour failed to please the Belgian art critics. Luckily the art collector François van Haelen decided to support Paerels financially and has bought several paintings from him
Between 1908 and 1909 the interior-paintings by Parels became more decorative. He started to employ the birds-eye perspective, enhanced the contrasts between the colours applying them in a flat manner. As a member of the so-called “Brabant Fauvists” he was supported by the art dealer Georges Giroux and invited to expose there since 1914.
The beginning of the First World War forced Paerels, while he was travelling in his native country Netherlands, to stay there for a long period of time. He opened an “atelier libre” and spent this difficult phase with teaching young artists the approach to modern painting. Regardless the distraction he had with teaching, the terrors of war left traces in his oeuvre. Around 1916 the atmosphere in his works darkened and revealed his sombre state of mind.
After the ending of the war he entered in a second personal and artistic crisis due to the loss of his wife. Paerels darkened his palette considerably and the colours have lost their brilliancy. The chromatic vibrations as well the transparency of light disappeared. At the same time the impact of Expressionism and Constructivism started to show.
In the following decades his life was mainly dominated by his travelling and teaching activities. His impressions from foreign countries were fixed in numerous drawings and sketches. In his paintings he regained the light and brilliancy of the early days. He had left the constructivist style behind.
From 1942 to 1955 Paerels was teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Louvain.
Catalogue raisonné in preparation
Ivan Pokitonow was born in the Russian village of Matrionovka in 1851. As a young man he went to Moscow to study agriculture and forestry. Caught up in a revolutionary student movement he was sentenced to return to his native village in 1869 where he discovered his inclination to art.
As a self-taught artist Pokitonow showed great talent in depicting landscapes with wide horizons, the sheer immensity of the steppes, the day-to-day life of his family and peasants of his home town. The first opportunity to expose his exquisitely detailed, miniature paintings was granted to Pokitonow by an art gallery in Geneva (Switzerland) in 1872. The exposition was a surprising success and his works were instantly sold out. Pokitonow however returned to Russia to take over the family business from his father.
Pokitonow’s visit of the 5th exhibition of the travelling Russian painters (Peredvijniki) in 1876 in Odessa marked the turning point of his life. Inspired by the originality of the paintings he became part of this artistic circle. He left his home and settled in Paris in 1877, the capital of 19th century art.
At the beginning of the 1880s Pokitonow experimented with different genres: landscapes, still lifes and battle scenes. His style resembled the so-called “mignon” painting featuring small formats as well as the use of very fine and thin brushes for depicting miniscule details. His themes were influenced by landscapes of painters of the Barbizon school like Corot, Millet and Daubigny as well as by urban motives of the Impressionists and their use of light. Pokitonow quickly earned the reputation of being the « roi du mignon » of Paris.
In 1882 Pokitonow was invited to represent Russian painting at the Exposition Universelle. Due to his success he received a contract from the famous Parisian art dealer Georges Petit. With Petit’s help Pokitonow became known abroad and received a prestigious command from czar Alexander III.
In the following years Pokitonow spent most of his time travelling through France and Russia working on his miniature landscapes. He repeated his tiny representations of people embedded in nature working or wandering in fields or flowering gardens, hunting in the woods and steppes in various variations. At the end of the 1880s his paintings featured a fascinating mix of French and Russian artistic currents.
In the early 1890s Pokitonow travelled to Southern France and Italy where his palette lightened up under the impression of the southern light. The use of bright, sparkling colours in representations of the sky, sea, Mediterranean towns and people was typical for this period of his work. In 1893 Pokitonow moved from Paris to the calm suburbs of Jupille, Belgium. The colours of his paintings darkened again. His motives reflecting the surroundings of Liege and picturesque sea baths like La Panne and Oostduinkerke at the Belgian shore became tamer and less brilliant.
At the turn of the century Pokitonow returned to Russia to the little village of Jabovchisna. Landscapes with cottages depicting land life were his main motives in this period. In 1905 Pokitonow met Leo Tolstoy and painted a series of paintings of the great Russian writer, his house and park in Iasnaia Poliana near Moscow.
After the First World War the painter returned to Belgium and died in December 1923 in Brussels.
Ivan Pokitonow (Ivan Pokhitonov) - Virtual Museum
Catalogue raisonné , Volume 1 available
Belgian painter, engraver, illustrator, designer and sculptor
Théo Van Rysselberghe entered the Academy of Brussels in 1880 under the directorship of Jean-François Portaels. Paintings of the latter, featuring North African motives strongly influenced the young artist. His works from that period reflected the Belgian realistic tradition showing large brush strokes and sombre colours.
Van Rysselberghe’s interest shifted soon to Impressionism. Already after his first trip to Spain and Morocco in 1882 his palette lightened up and the tonality became warmer. A turning point in his career was his first contact with Neo-Impressionism at the eighth impressionist exhibition in Paris (1886). Georges Seurat's pointillist icone La Grande Jatte made him an adept of the new movement. Van Rysselberghe painted a series of remarkable portraits, numerous landscapes and seascapes. The colours were bright, the decomposition of light masterly.
In the late 1890s, Théo van Rysselberghe’s neo-impressionist style peaked. But his interest in this movement faded after a conflict with Signac regarding the strict use of the pointillist technique. In order to refine his approach to nature, his use of dots became increasingly less orthodox. After 1910 his brush strokes were longer, the palette more vivid and with intensified contrasts. He successfully incorporated the transparency of light and the illusion of shimmering heat in his artworks.
In 1911 he moved with his family to Saint Clair, France where he continued painting Mediterranean landscapes, portraits and decorative murals. The female nude became prominent in his monumental paintings. In 1922 the Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels organised an important one-man-show of his works. Four years later the artist died in Lavandou, France.
Théo Van Rysselberghe
Catalogue raisonné in preparation
Belgian painter, sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker.
From early age on Rik Wouters worked as an apprentice in the studio of his father, an ornamental sculptor. In his workshop he created wooden figures and decorations for furniture. Only fifteen years old he entered the Akademie van Schone Kunsten in Mechelen to study sculpture.
In 1900 he decided to move to the Belgian capital where he became a pupil of Charles Van der Stappen at the Academie des Beaux-Arts. There he met Hélène Duerinckx (Nel) who was to become his wife, favourite model and muse. The poverty of the young couple and the sickness of Nel forced them to leave the city centre and to go to Boitsfort, the green outskirts of Brussels.
In Boitsfort Wouters focused on painting and studies of light. He chose to depict interiors and stillifes, painted with a knife (spatula) and showing an abundant use of colour laid down on cardboard. In 1911 Wouters changed his style, abandoning the use of the spatula and opting for the brush. In order to obtain a maximum of transparency the painter diluted his colours and used particularly absorbing canvases. It resulted in a reduced scale of warm tones and a diminished brilliancy of colours.
The young couple escaped from poverty only in 1912 when Wouters signed an exclusive contract with the Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels. Not having to face financial trouble his creativity unfolded in the following years. Wouters visited Paris and Cologne where he studied paintings by Cézanne and Van Gogh and other impressionist works. This influence was reflected in his own work where colours gained the illusion of shimmering light. Long walks in the nearby woods inspired him in his choice of motives.
The First World War represented a major change in Wouters’ life. As a soldier he faced terror, death and destruction in Belgium and ended up in a detention camp in Amersfort, Netherlands. To escape from evil of war, he carried on producing drawings and water paintings in the detention camp. However, his health started to deteriorate quickly so that he was released from camp and moved with his wife to Amsterdam. In 1916 Rik Wouters died at the young age of 33.
Rik Wouters - Virtual Museum
Catalogue raisonné of works on paper and sculptures in preparation
Belgian painter and graphic artist
Wytsman was born in the Belgian town of Termonde in a sophisticated middle-class family. His father used to receive writers, artists and politicians in their home to discuss contemporary classic and avant-garde art currents.
At the age of 11 young Wytsman decided to study antique sculpture at the Academy in Ghent. His teacher Capeininck was not convinced of his talent and made him quit the class. After three years of work in a textile shop, Wytsman decided to get back to art classes and has followed successfully painting as well as drawing lessons at the Academy in Ghent and then in Brussels. He found however the academic access to art somewhat restricted because it limited him to copies of antique nudes and compositions arranged inside the workshop. He was more attracted to plein-air painting: landscapes featuring the banks of the river Lys or fields in the shade of orchards.
From 1882 to 1883 he was granted the opportunity to travel through Italy. As many generations of painters before, Wytsman was instantly struck by the warm tonalities and the luminosity under the sunshiny Italian sky. Upon his return in 1883 he exposed with the Groupe des XX where his style clearly departed from the sombre Flemish painting tradition and his paintings showed a shift towards a brighter palette and higher luminosity. He applied his colours with a palette knife, giving the canvases a certain structure.
In 1886 the young painter married Juliette Trullemans. Together with his wife - a painter of flowers - he wondered through the green outskirts of Brussels, La Hulpe and the wood of Soignes, in search for motives. The exposition of the French Neo-Impressionists in 1887 has provoked a change of technique in Wytsman’s oeuvre. He instantly abandoned the use of the palette knife and opted for a more delicate brush stroke. The latter was more adapted for presentations of the vibrating atmosphere in his landscapes.
In 1892 the young couple moved to a small country house in Linkebeek, close to Brussels. They continued to travel throughout Belgium, visiting the banks of the river Maas, the cities of Profondeville, Yvoir and Dave. As the First World War began, they were forced to leave Belgium and to settle in Netherlands. In Dutch villages like Overschie, Bergplaats, Oisterwyk and Mook they have found motives that resembled closely the home they left behind with its moor landscapes and the pine tree woods. During their stay in Netherlands, Rodolphe organised meetings with his exiled fellow Belgian painters and encouraged them to expose their works.
After the war, the couple moved back to Linkebeek where they stayed artistically active until the death of Wytsman in 1927
Catalogue raisonné in preparation
Juliette Trullemans began her artistic career with professor Hendrickx in Brussels (Institut Bischoffsheim). She was particularly gifted and decided therefore to specialise in flower-painting in the workshop of Capeininck in Ghent. There she studied very closely the Romantic botanic iconography and spent hours with the precise rendering of floral motives.
At the same time she was feeling the need to explore the nature outside the atelier. With Rodolphe Wytsman, whom she met in the workshop of Capeininck, she shared the same interest and admiration for the plein-air painting of the Impressionists like Monet and Pissarro. Wytsman, being a founding member of the Groupe des XX, introduced her to this circle of the Belgian avant-garde artists. The modern spirit of the group motivated her to pursue painting outside the atelier. She concentrated on the fugitive impressions of light and shade reflecting on the vegetation around her.
Juliette and Rodolphe, who married in 1886, enjoyed painting together at the picturesque sites in the outskirts of Brussels: La Hulpe or in the woods of Soignies. At that time they became friends with the writer Camille Lemonnier, whose garden Juliette used to paint. In this period Juliette proved her special qualities as a highly sensitive landscape painter. In the house of Lemonnier she used to meet the Belgian Impressionist – founder of the Luminist movement - Emile Claus.
In 1892 the couple bought a house in Linkebeek at the outskirts of Brussels. The country house possessed a beautiful garden, where Juliette Wytsman-Trullemans used to pick her motives. Her most impressive paintings date back in this period of her life.
With the outbreak of the First World War the couple was forced to leave the country. They settled in Rotterdam, where Rodolphe organised meetings and exhibitions of his exiled fellow Belgian painters. In Dutch villages like Overschie, Bergplaats, Oisterwyk and Mook they have found motives that resembled closely the nature back home in Linkebeek, with its moor landscapes and the pine tree woods.
As the war ended, the couple moved back to Linkebeek. Wytsman Trullemans stayed artistically active and was exposing at the official salons until her death in 1925
Catalogue raisonné in preparation