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ARTISTIC CIRCLE : KUNST VAN HEDEN - Antwerp 1905-1959

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HISTORY :

Kunst van HedenKunst van Heden (Contemporary Art) was a belgian association of artists and patronages, which held their inaugural meeting March 1st 1905 in Antwerp.

The founders were the Antwerp industrials François Franck, Louis Franck and Charles Franck, aswell the men of letters Paul de Mont and Emmanuel de Bom. The association gave place to fortunate member-patronages such as Bracht, Kreglinger, Bunge, Speth, Mund, Bischoffsheim, Fester, Osterrieth and von der Becke. This last one co-founded in 1872 the shipping company Red Star Line.

The intention was to create an Anwerp platform to promote contemporary belgian art. And this via lectures, publications, exhibitions and donations to musea. In Antwerp, in comparaison to Brussels, this remained open terrain.

Only the more moderate, conservativ association Als ik Kan and the more progressive but small group Eenigen occupied the Antwerp terrain. 'Eenigen' stopped his activities around the time of the foundation of Kunst van Heden. Therefor she is seen as the 'embryonal phase' of 'Kunst van Heden'.
Many names from one group are to be found in the other group. Other Antwerp precursor groups were De Scalden (1889-1914), actually they brought little renewal, L'Association pour l'Art (1892-1893) and De Kapel (1899-1905), established by François Franck. This last mouvement was a kind of popular university for exchanging artistic, philosophical and political current events.

Member-artists from early days were :
Albert Baertsoen, Richard Baseleer, Emile Claus, Jean Delvin, Victor Charles Hageman, Eugène Laermans, Hendrik Luyten, Charles Mertens, Constantin Meunier, George Minne, George Morren, Ernest Rombaux, Victor Rousseau, Jakob Smits, Eugeen Van Mieghem and Walter Vaes.
Shortly afterwards James Ensor and Egide Rombaux joined the association.

EXHIBITIONS :

Kunst van Heden 1905 Leys & de BraekeleerThe first exhibition (from 14th of Mai till 15th of June 1905) took place in the Royal Musea of Fine Arts, amid great public interest, and was a retrospective dedicated to Henri Leys and Henri de Braekeleer.

Kunst van Heden 1924 RodinAs from this event on, members could exhibit every year their works to the public.

Exhibitions were organised with works of amongst others Auguste Rodin, Constant Permeke, Gustave and Leon De Smet, Gustave Van de Woestijne, Rik Wouters and Eugeen Van Mieghem.

During the Second World War several founders died, whilst others moved abroad. This meant the decline of this cercle, who closed his doors after a final exhibition in 1959.

 

Sources: In dienst van de kunst KMSKA 1991 - Antwerps mecenaat rond Kunst van Heden
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