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Belgian Beauty

From Ensor to Magritte

06.06 – 30.08.15

James Ensor, 'Pierrot and Skeleton in a Yellow Robe', 1893, MSK Gent.

During the summer of 2015, some ten works from the MSK collection were on display at the Singer Museum in Laren (NL). They were part of the exhibition Belgian Beauty: from Ensor to Magritte, which situated Belgian art from the period 1880-1940 in its international – mainly Dutch – context.

At the heart of the exhibition was the two historical artist groups in Sint-Martens-Latem in the period 1900-1925 and its intriguing parallel with Laren, which was equally an artist colony in those years.

Indeed, the attraction that rural Laren had on urban Amsterdammers is very similar to that of the then village of Sint-Martens-Latem on mainly Ghent artists. What connected them was, among other things, a similar quest for authenticity and simplicity, and the urge to immerse themselves in another culture and an alternative way of life, or even: by adopting an unfamiliar rhythm of life based on the eternal cycle of the seasons.

Although Sint-Martens-Latem and Laren have since acquired an exclusive and residential character, both villages retained the character of an alternative community, a hippy community avant la lettre, until well into the 20th century.