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Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (MuHKA)

Related: museums in Antwerp - contemporary art

MuHKA museum


MUHKA’s full name is Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, or Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp. It has been housed in a converted grain silo and adjoining warehouse since 1987. This renovation and change of use is very much in keeping with the attention that is now being paid to the fascinating urban planning of the ‘Zuid’ or South area of the city.

The MUHKA’s 4.000 square metres of exhibition space devoted to art from 1970 to the present day. The building and the collection, which of course is constantly being added to, belongs to the Flemish Community. Moreover, the museum has the Matta-Clark Foundation collection in its possession for an indeterminate period of time. Initially it formed the basis of the MUHKA collection and consists of more than 150 works by Belgian and international artists. --http://www.muhka.be/ [Jul 2004]

Aspects of contemporary art in Belgium 1970-1985

Carlos Ginzburg, Latin American Prostitute (holding a statement [Qu'est ce l'art? Prostitution.] by Baudelaire), performance in het ICC, 1974 foto ©archief ICC/MuHKA

exhibition at the MuHKA, Antwerp
Dear ICC 18 dec 2004 - 27 feb 2005

Aspects of contemporary art in Belgium 1970-1985
During the seventies and the early eighties, the ICC was an intermediary between a progressive art praxis and the ill-at-ease public, as well as an alternative platform for the production and the presentation of -amongst other things- recent conceptual art, installations, video, happening and performance.

A critical reflection on the function of this institution throws another (for ‘historical’) light on different contemporary problematic issues in the museum world as of today with regard to interdisciplinarity, production facilities, social positioning and dealing with the museum public. At the same time, the project suggests a possible interaction with and opening of an important body of archives which, at present, is still drifting in between archaeology and actuality.

with works and/or documents by a.o. vito acconci, laurie anderson, alessandro, artworker foundation, ben, conny beckley, fred bervoets, guillaume bijl, guy bleus, marcel broodthaers, daniël buren, james lee byars, andré cadéré, jacques charlier, leo copers, cel crabeels, thierry de cordier, raoul de keyser, paul de vylder, daniël dewaele, luc deleu, denmark, yves de smet, robert devriendt, danny devos, michael druks, lili dujourie, benni efrat, pieter engels, filip francis, jonah friedman, jef geys, marc ghens, dan graham, michael harvey, pieter kortekaas, joseph kosuth, marie-jo lafontaine, jacques lennep, jacques lizène, bernd lohaus, lea lublin, brice marden, gordon matta-clark, danny matthys, guy mees, ludo mich, antonio muntadas, jacques louis nyst, orlan, ria pacquée, panamarenko, fabrizio plessi, reindeer werk, maurice roquet, guy rombouts, susan russell, jean-michel sanejouand, buky schwartz, sosnowski, narcisse tordoir, niele toroni, boy & erik stappaerts, nicolas uriburu, thé van bergen, patrick van caeckenbergh, hubert van es, johan van geluwe, anne-mie van kerckhoven, philippe vandenberg, frank van herck, raoul van den boom, wout vercammen, bill vazan, jan vercruysse, marc verstockt

curator: johan pas

--http://www.muhka.be/toont_beeldende_kunst_detail.php?la=en&date=&id=98&subbase=actueel&jaartal=&jaargang=&letter=&person_id=&work_id= [Jan 2005]

FilmMuseum [...]

  • Filmmuseum: Filmmuseum Antwerpen, Waalsekaai, 47, Antwerpen-Zuid, http://www.cinebel.be/nl/cine.asp?count=59&ondate=30000101


    For forty years, Antwerp had been dreaming of a museum for modern/contemporary art before the MuHKA finally opened its doors.

    The success of the Biennale for Sculpture in Middelheim Park undoubtedly contributed to this desire. In 1947, Lode Craeybeckx wanted to establish a polyvalent building for cultural activities: he proposed building a Liberation Palace in the municipal park, a site for concerts and other events, but in particular for contemporary art. However, because of the precarious financial situation of post-war Antwerp these plans were soon put to one side. Three years later, he did open the Middelheim Open Air Museum.

    In the early Sixties, Craeybeckx as the mayor made a second attempt to build a (state) museum for contemporary art and this time he had the property opposite the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in mind, the site where the Hippodrome Theatre was falling into disrepair. Once again, the estimated costs put a stop to the plans.

    However, the idea was not abandoned any more and various parties started to work hard for the establishment of a museum of modern art in Antwerp. In 1966 the architect Leo Stijnen submitted a proposal to build a museum on pillars near the Steen castle, at the end of one of the city's most important tourist routes. This project was not accepted since it was feared that it would interfere with the harbour activities.

    In 1970, Stijnen submitted a second proposal: on the Left Bank, he wanted to realise a never executed project by Le Corbusier, the ‘Musée à Croissance Illimitée’. This design from 1939 for a spiral-shaped building with unlimited expansion possibilities would lend Antwerp international acclaim. The prestigious project was received favourably and it was decided to site it in Middelheim Park. The first stone was laid on 12 September 1970, but very soon the building work had to be stopped since the park was declared a protected green area. --http://www.muhka.be/museum_historiek.php?la=en&date=&id=&subbase=historiek&jaartal=&jaargang=&letter=&person_id=&work_id= [Jul 2004]


    Meanwhile, there was an increasing need in Antwerp for a museum for modern/contemporary art – a public space where art can develop and be shown outside the secrecy of a private collection and without the pressure of a commercial circuit. The flourishing and fascinating art scene with an extensive gallery circuit, many collectors of contemporary art and not in the least a large number of important artists felt more and more the necessity of such a public space.

    On the initiative of the Ministry of Dutch Culture, the International Cultural Centre (I.C.C.) was established in the former Royal Palace on the Meir in Antwerp in 1970. This I.C.C. was the first public institute for contemporary art in Flanders, followed five years later by the Museum for Contemporary Art in Gent. According to Ludo Bekkers, the first director of the centre, it should become a space where anything is possible, from more traditional events such as exhibitions and concerts to happenings and ‘theatre workshops’ for children and adults. The focus was on contemporary art, but because the idea had developed from the notion of a cultural centre, there was – as is appropriate in that context – also room for concerts, poetry, all kinds of courses, etc. Especially in the period from 1972 to 1981, under the direction of Flor Bex, the centre evolved into a dynamic meeting place for art(ists) and public. Therefore, this initial period of the I.C.C. may be considered to be the immediate forerunner of the MuHKA. The MuHKA is actually the official heir of the I.C.C. The latter's important documentation centre, the library and videotheque were incorporated in the MuHKA. In addition, the I.C.C. period was the basis for the collection. --http://www.muhka.be/museum_historiek.php?la=en&date=&id=&subbase=historiek&jaartal=&jaargang=&letter=&person_id=&work_id= [Jul 2004]

    Gordon Matta-Clark

    The American artist Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-78), who trained as an architect, used the urban environment and more specifically buildings as material. He arranged empty premises by, among other things, cutting out fragments. With his interventions he transformed architecture into sculpture, he exposed the soul of a building: to convert a place into a state of mind.

    In 1977, Matta-Clark was invited by Flor Bex to exhibit in the I.C.C. He was given the opportunity to work on empty premises on the Ernest Van Dijckkaai, near the Steen. In honour of the four hundredth birthday of the Antwerp Baroque painter Rubens, the artist called this work ‘Office Baroque’.

    Soon after his death in 1978, Flor Bex suggested keeping the Office Baroque as a homage to the artist and to integrate it as the core in a museum for contemporary art to be built on the surrounding plots. This idea was received positively and the Gordon Matta-Clark Foundation was established to gather the necessary funds. Numerous artists at home and abroad donated a work in an attempt to secure the Office Baroque or, should this fail, to serve as the basic collection for the new museum for contemporary art, which – as its advocates were convinced – would come now any way.

    In spite of the efforts of many, the Office Baroque, the only remaining architectural-sculptural work by Gordon Matta-Clark after his death, was demolished just before the definitive agreement (there are, however, photographs of the Office Baroque in the MuHKA collection).

    By then the call for a museum of contemporary art had become too loud in Antwerp to be ignored and was eventually heard at the highest competent political level. After the restructuring of the state in 1980 this had become the Flemish Community, which decided in 1982 to establish the MuHKA. Since the Office Baroque had been demolished and many other plans had failed, a new location had to be sought at that time. Because of the fact that the new Flemish government had only limited finances and the fact that he wanted to see the museum have a solid start within his legislature, the competent minister opted for conversion and extension of existing premises instead of a new building. link naar architectuur

    The 'Zuid' (South) seemed to be the ideal location for the new museum: the presence of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the plans of the province to establish a Photography Museum there too, the extensive parking possibilities on the filled up Southern Docks, the presence of important galleries, and the proximity of the Scheldt. After some searching, a grain silo in the Leuvenstraat was acquired in 1985 and work could be started.

    On 20 September 1985 the MuHKA was officially founded (published in the Staatsblad [Belgian Statute Book] of 18 June 1986) and on 20 June 1987 the museum was inaugurated with around 150 works of the Gordon Matta-Clark Foundation as the starting point for the collection and the I.C.C. inheritance as the basis for the vision and the policy. The first director of the MuHKA was also the former inspirer of the I.C.C.: Flor Bex. The first exhibition in the MuHKA was devoted to Gordon Matta-Clark's oeuvre.

    In the end, the MuHKA was established as an initiative of the Flemish Community. The necessary decrees date from the time of the term of office (1981-85) of Karel Poma as Federal Minister of Culture and a great protagonist of a museum of contemporary art in Antwerp. The museum was realised during Patrick Dewael's term of office.

    The statute of a vzw (not-for-profit organisation) was opted for in order to keep the new museum as flexible and versatile as possible. Yet there is a very close relationship with the Flemish Community: in addition to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Kasteel van Gaasbeek (Gaasbeek Castle), the MuHKA is one of the three museums of the Flemish Community and is virtually completely subsidised by that authority. Furthermore, the Flemish Community is the owner of the buildings and the collection of the MuHKA. --http://www.muhka.be/museum_historiek.php?la=en&date=&id=&subbase=historiek&jaartal=&jaargang=&letter=&person_id=&work_id= [Jul 2004]

    Florent Bex

    Under the leadership of Flor Bex the MuHKA evolved into a dynamic museum with attention for contemporary artists from the region in an international context. Exhibitions are organised at a great pace and, in spite of the tight budget, the collection is extended substantially every year (after 15 years the museum has around seven hundred works of art in its collection). The collection policy is oriented on the period from 1970. The works in the collection dating to the Seventies virtually all originate from the Gordon Matta-Clark Foundation. Now and again, the museum has the financial means to acquire a work from that period, but the acquisition policy generally follows in the footsteps of contemporary art and mainly brand-new work from the Eighties and Nineties is acquired. In addition, for Flanders the MuHKA is the guideline for the development of museum public relations and it develops a carefully composed range of educational activities and other supporting activities for young and old.

    With the MuHKA as one of the driving forces, next to the also new Photography Museum and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Zuid (South area) is reviving. In addition, neighbourhood is evolving into one of the most "in" and artistic places in Antwerp. It is the place to be, live, work, eat, and go to enjoy art. Several new galleries have set up there, and in the period August 1992 – June 1993 the museum was substantially extended. --http://www.muhka.be/museum_historiek.php?la=en&date=&id=&subbase=historiek&jaartal=&jaargang=&letter=&person_id=&work_id= [Jul 2004]

    Bart De Baere

    In February 2002, Bart De Baere became the new director of the MuHKA. At the end of 2002, the museum presented its new approach. Now every season, the MuHKA organises a large temporary exhibition on the ground floor and an ever-changing collection presentation on the upper floors; in these collection presentations, space is made for small interventions by artists. They are thus given the opportunity to experiment in and with a museum context.

    The new policy plays down the emphasis on Belgian art(ists) in favour of a wider international perspective and questioning of developments in contemporary art. Belgian art occupies and will continue to occupy an important place, but more explicitly as part of a greater whole. The MuHKA itself has actually 'entered into a relationship'. In 2003, the merger with the Centrum voor Beeldcultuur (Centre for ImageCulture) was finalised, so that the the scope will go beyond the visual arts and encompass image culture. --http://www.muhka.be/museum_historiek.php?la=en&date=&id=&subbase=historiek&jaartal=&jaargang=&letter=&person_id=&work_id= [Jul 2004]

    Belgian Cinema/Le Cinema Belge/De Belgische Film

    Belgian Cinema/Le Cinema Belge/De Belgische Film - Marianne Thys, Cinematheque Royale De Belgique [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Belgian cinema may not be as familiar as French or Italian, but this trilingual (English/French/Dutch) volume from the Royal Belgian Film Archive is essential for any comprehensive international film library. The more than 1600 "Belgian" films represented here are all Belgian-financed; entries may have been produced in any of about 40 countries. Silent and sound films are treated equally, with one page and a black-and-white photo devoted to each film; all genres (experimental, feature, animated, and documentary) are covered. While the volume is not a history, it provides some background throughout on the Belgian film industry. The chronological arrangement forces readers to use the indexes of names and film titles, but that is a minor irritation. Highly recommended for all film collections. --Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Houston via Amazon.com

    BELGIAN CINEMA describes in a lively style 100 years of Belgian cinematic production. This extensively illustrated, tri-lingual volume presents a chronological outlook on national production between 1896 and 1996. The idea was for a serious reference volume which would serve as a basis for the work of journalists, students and academics as well as film restorers and archivists. Finally, in compiling this publication we also set ourselves the goal of opening a gateway, allowing the material filmed in our country to reach a wider audience not (yet) familiar with Belgian cinema and its history. --Book Description via Amazon.com

    The sources employed the film collection of the Royal Film Archive naturally, but also contributions from other collections and, above all, countless written sources permitted the discovery of an important and relatively little known cinematic production. The results take the form of a filmography divided into two parts: the silent era and the sound cinema. Given that the information to be found on the first three decades of cinema in Belgium is as surprising as it is scarce, we have chosen to take a closer look at film production during that era and cover every individual work, regardless of length. To bring clarity into this more nebulous period of history, we have divided the section on the silent era into three periods or chapters. These three chapters have themselves been subdivided into a series of thematic - though not necessarily systematic - sections, where each film has its place. The remainder of the book is devoted to the sound era. Here, all sound films of mor! ! e than 60 minutes in length are listed in chronological order, year by year, film by film. Fiction and documentary, animation, art and experimental film - all genres are represented here. Each is covered by a single page comprising a column of credit details / technical data, an illustration and a text in English, French and Dutch. The texts not only describe the contents of the film, but also consider the production history of the work, the career of the director or members of its cast and the reception of the film. They reflect the individual characteristics of the film and try to place it in its historical context. The texts as a whole thus give an overview of 100 years of Belgian cinema history. This book is not a film history. Yet readers will be surprised to discover, turning the pages on a whim or with the simple desire to revisit old flames and happen across new, that this weighty volume expands in unexpected directions. It becomes an endless puzzle in which loving study can discern, guided by the thread of our films, the living history of our century.(André Delvaux) --via Amazon.com

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