Our Top Art Stories of the Year
Join us in bidding goodbye to 2023 with some of the most surprising stories we have published this year on the beautiful art being made in Flanders and the Netherlands. They are worth reading again. Sit down by the fireplace. Relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the stories.
Vermeer Through the Scanner
© Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
This year, art lovers from around the world flocked to Amsterdam for the largest Johannes Vermeer exhibition ever. The Rijksmuseum brought together as many as 28 of his paintings. At first glance, Vermeer was everything but impulsive. The lab research that preceded the exhibition, however, shows that the Dutch master constantly adjusted his compositions during the painting process.
The Universal “Belgitude” of Stromae
© Michael Ferire
That Jacques Brel has been an inspiration to him is well-known, but pop star Stromae also has connections to other phenomena and figures from the Belgian collective imagination: from fries and mussels to Maurice Maeterlinck and René Magritte. Stromae expresses and depicts the diversity of Belgian society through the collision of his Belgian-ness and Brussels patriotism with a multitude of diverse perspectives.
When Painters Go Ice Skating
© Kunstmuseum Den Haag
Although the Dutch have been ice skating since the thirteenth century, it was not until the sixteenth century that ice skaters would regularly appear in paintings, courtesy of the Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder and... a climatic phenomenon. Since then, countless artists have ventured out onto the ice and the (self)image of the Netherlands as a skating nation has emerged.
Tania Kross Makes Opera Mainstraim
© Wessel de Groot
Tania Kross received the prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award – the Dutch state prize for the arts. The Netherlands’ most popular mezzo-soprano, born in Curaçao, makes opera accessible to millions of people. Before that, she constantly deviated from the well-trodden paths.
The Forgotten Stories Behind Nazi-Looted Art
Investigative journalist Geert Sels spent eight years researching Nazi-looted art in Belgium. In Kunst voor das Reich (Art for Das Reich), he brings many histories of robbery, collaboration and restitution to light for the first time. His book is also an appeal to the Belgian government to tackle this issue thoroughly.
Lucky Luke, a World-Famous Cowboy From Flanders
© Lucky Comics
For a Flemish cartoonist, a western is not an obvious genre. And yet Maurice De Bevere – who would have turned one hundred this year – created Lucky Luke. The most Belgian of all comic strip cowboys has enjoyed international success since his debut in 1946, with millions of albums sold. Even today, a quarter of a century after the death of his creator.
Religious Heritage and Contemporary Art at Museum Krona
© Museum Krona, Uden
Museum Krona combines centuries-old crucifixes and monstrances with contemporary paintings and photographs. This results in particularly fresh presentations in a gem of a museum. The authenticity of the place is guaranteed by five nuns who still live and work in the abbey complex.
Blood or Flowers: Boxing in the Visual Arts
© Centraal Museum, Utrecht
There is a never-ending list of filmmakers, writers and visual artists who have been, and indeed continue to be fascinated by the so-called noble art. Internationally renowned artists including Picasso, Schiele, Warhol and Basquiat have virtuously incorporated their fascination for the ring into their oeuvre. Their example was also followed in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Dollhouse of Sara Rothé
© Frans Halsmuseum, Den Haag
The Dollhouse of Sara Rothé at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem provides us with an intimate glimpse into the rich life of the eighteenth century. Behind the façade of this canal house, each of the twelve rooms is decorated and furnished according to the fashion of the time. The fact that the designer used several older dollhouses to construct this one should not detract from our admiration.
Masterpieces from the CODART Canon
To mark the 25th anniversary of CODART, we introduced you to one of the hundred exceptional masterpieces of early modern Dutch and Flemish art (1350-1750) selected by museum curators from around the world for the CODART Canon.