Belgium is well-known for its unconventional approach to art and design. The innovations introduced by the Flemish Primitives transformed art history and influenced generations of artists to come. Artists like Bruegel and Rubens were influenced by foreign ideas, but reshaped them into very distinct and personal styles. The art of reshaping ideas in new and exciting ways has been possible because of the somewhat rebellious Belgians nature. When new engineering techniques allowed for experiments in construction design, architects like Victor Horta and Paul Hankar set out to create some of the most distinct Art Nouveau architecture in the world. More recently the revolutionary fashion design by the Antwerp Six or the music and style of singer Stromae have been lauded by experts and the public for the groundbreaking approach to their art.
Art Deco & Art Nouveau Masterpieces in Brussels
Brussels houses some of the finest examples of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture. A visit to the Hortamuseum is a must for every architecture student. The Museum Van Buuren is the former house of a banker where you can now visit his impressive collection of art. Unfortunately (and incomprehensibly) some of the masterpieces are closed to the public, like the Hotel Tassel and the Stoclet Palace, and some of them have been destroyed (wait? what?!). Another famous designer of that era gave his name to a design award, the Henry Van De Velde Awards, presented at the beginning of the year. The accompanying exposition will point you to some of the most cutting-edge designers in Belgium.
The Shock of Surrealism in Brussels
Special mention to Surrealism, that seems to have been embraced by Brussels. Nowhere else in the world surrealism has permeated the daily life and culture like it has in Brussels. The main artist of surrealism in Belgium is René Magritte and his museum will make you look at things differently.
Inspirational Museums in Brussels
There are a few amazing museums in Brussels, with great collections. But a few stand out, because of their architecture. The Bozar, the Museum of Fine Arts, was designed by Horta and not only the collection it houses but its Art Deco interior is worth the visit. Tours of the interior itself can be arranged through the museum. Belgium is known for its comic strip artists, and at the Belgian Comic Strip Center you can not only discover the different artists and their creations, but also the magnificent building created by Horta. Recently at the world-famous Atomium, a museum dedicated to design from the twentieth century has opened, the Adam.
Notable Houses in Brussels
One of the success stories of Brussels conservation and artist promotion has been the Villa Empain, an Art Deco masterpiece that houses an art foundation aimed at establishing a dialogue between the East and the West, The Boghossian Foundation. A visit to this villa is a must for anyone who loves Art Deco, architecture and art in general. Then there are 2 houses by Victor Horta, Maison Autrique and Maison Cauchie.
Galleries in Brussels
Events in Brussels
If you happen to be in Brussels during one of these events, we recommend you take the time to visit them. Art Brussels, the contemporary art fair in Tour & Taxis. Brussels Design September, the meeting place for design enthusiasts. For a month, the city becomes the meeting platform for numerous Belgian and international designers. The Affordable Art Fair, when local and international galleries bringing a fabulous array of contemporary art to Tour & Taxis.
If you are looking for a place to stay that will keep on inspiring you, only the Pantone Hotel has comfortable color spaces.
Click here to see the map of all the places in this article.