Belgian Art on Paper
in a European Perspective
BePAPER is a four-year research project. It is to provide the first overview of the field of Belgian avant-garde works on paper within an international context between 1918 and 1950: that is up and until the dawn of CoBrA and the rise of the neo-avant-gardes. One of the project’s main aims is to contribute to a better definition of the collection of modern works on paper of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium (RMFAB).
BePAPER is a collaboration between the RMFAB, KU Leuven and its MDRN research lab, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. It is funded by BRAIN-be 2.0.
The project’s aim is to study and disclose artworks on paper, amongst which there are drawings, watercolors, collages, and assemblages. The RMFAB collection houses about a thousand individual sheets of paper and sketchbooks created by Belgian avant-garde artists from the time period.
These artists include the futurist Jules Schmalzigaug, expressionists Frits van den Berghe, Joseph Cantré, Gustave De Smet and Constant Permeke, the constructivists Jozef Peeters, Karel Maes, Felix De Boeck, Victor Servranckx, Edmond van Dooren and Pierre-Louis Flouquet, the surrealists Paul Delvaux, René Magritte, and E.L.T. Mesens as well as the dadaist Paul Joostens. We will also have a closer look at the so-called Jeune Peinture Belge at the end of the historical avant-garde.
In addition to the collection of artworks, the research will be based on holdings in the Archives of Contemporary Art in Belgium (ACAB), Archives of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (ARMFAB) and the museum library.
1) To study why and how this wide variety of artists turned to paper during the interwar period and to isolate possibly late appropriation tendencies within the Belgian avant-gardes as well as the emergence of trends already pointing ahead to the neo-avant-gardes.
2) To better disclose the RMFAB collection of works on paper through the findings gained within the study and through the development of open data solutions.
3) To organize several outreach events such as a conference, publications and exhibitions. They will address both a scientific and a wider audience.
This website will continue to grow as a platform for sharing our research outcomes, blogposts, data stories, events etc.
Victor Servranckx, Composition,
pencil on paper, 1947.
Félix De Boeck, Portrait of Karel Maes,
pen, brush and black ink and washed with pencil on paper, 1926.
Gaston Bertrand, The cinema,
pen and black ink on cardboard, 1947.
Jozef Peeters, Preliminary draft for a closet for living room, pencil and pen and red and brown ink on paper, 1924.
Pierre Louis Flouquet, Femininity,
pencil on paper (Auvergne), 1922.
Jean Milo, Project for a poster of a dance at the ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’, pencil on paper, 1945.
E.L.T. Mesens, Title page for ‘Alphabet sourd aveugle’, collage on paper, 1928.
Paul Joostens, Collage, colored paper on cardboard, 1920.
All images © RMFAB, Brussels.