Although Brussels’ art scene has been less celebrated in the past than its major European peers, the interest in fine arts begins to grow in the capital of Europe! Brussels is centrally located between the art hubs Paris, Berlin and London, and is therefore seen as the perfect (new) location for the arts. More and more European curators are feeding the city with galleries, and the amount of art museums is growing by the day. But where do you find the fine arts in Brussels? We provide you with a list of fine arts hotspots in Brussels!
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts is a true cultural gem and consists of 6 different, unique museums. With an international, but mostly national collection of more than 20,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures, the collective is the leader in fine arts from the 14th century to today. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts is the most visited museum complex in Belgium and consists of Fin de Siècle Museum, Oldmasters Museum, Modern Museum, Magritte Museum, Meunier Museum and Wiertz Museum.
Fin-de-Siècle Museum is the latest addition to the Royals Museums and exhibits mainly pieces from the art nouveau era of 1900 - to be precise: between 1868, the year the Société Libre des Beaux-Arts was founded, and 1914. Do you rather extend that era to the present, visit Modern Museum for a large collection of modern and contemporary art. If you prefer ancient art in Brussels, go to Oldmasters Museum. Walk through the exhibition spaces of the creative periods of the 15th to the 18th century, such as Flemish Baroque and the Renaissance - it even smells really authentic! These three museums are located in one venue, the Beaux-Arts building, on Rue de la Regence.
The name Magritte Museum already reveals what the museum is about: the surrealist works of Belgian René Magritte - one of the most versatile and most famous artists in the world. A similar case is the Meunier Museum, although the painter and sculptor Constantin Meunier is much less known to the general public. Here, in his old home atelier, you can find his works that reflect the industrial age and its social and political consequences. And finally, we have the Wiertz Museum to complete the list. Here you will find the experimental, or even controversial, work of sculptor, author and painter Antoine Wiertz. The romantic artist was particularly inspired by Michelangelo, Rubens and Raphael - some pretty impressive names!
BOZAR is just a stone's throw away from the Beaux-Arts building. When you ask for directions to one of these two venues, beware, because you pronounce their names the same! BOZAR is the creative home of cultural Brussels with a varied collection of art, such as paintings and sculptures, but also dance, music, literature, film and so much more. Exhibitions come and go here and the museum is always on the move; literally and figuratively! Upon entering, you walk into a room where there is a baroque choir singing, and a couple of steps further, you stumble upon a classical ballet - you are continuously surprised at BOZAR! The place also hosts various international events, such as the well-known TED Talks and its impressive guest speakers. A few years ago, the Dalai Lama even visited to give an inspiring talk!
Would you like to go off the beaten track and avoid the big crowds? Then visit the Museum of Ixelles. That doesn’t mean you get to see art of inferior quality... Museum of Ixelles is world class, or rather: European class. The museum namely exhibits an impressive collection of masterpieces representative of the Belgian and European art movements - in particular the movements of the 19th and 20th centuries that somewhat resembles the trendy neighbourhood where the museum is located. Inside you find your way through an impressive collection of 10,000 impressionist and surrealist pieces. The museum "should" definitely be on your fine arts-list if you love art nouveau or graphic art!
There are dozens of modern art galleries scattered around Brussels, from small one-room studios to large (private) collections in villas. Probably one of the most prominent is Maison Particulière near Châtelain. This unique gallery in a private home is non-profit and therefore nothing is for sale (sorry!). Here you find a diverse collection within a fixed theme, donated by many art collectors and lovers.
Another special art gallery in Brussels is that of Parisian gallery owner Almine Rech. Although the art scene of Brussels is seen as a backlash against the Parisian art dominance, the French Almine Rech has opened here her gallery. It mainly offers young talents a chance, like she did with the exhibition of the light installation by previously unknown artist James Turrell. It is truly one of the best galleries in Brussels within the niche of minimal and conceptual art. Gallery Greta Meert also falls under this category of minimal and conceptual art with exhibitions of emerging artists of back in the days, such as Thomas Struth, Richard Tuttle, Robert Mangold and Louise Lawler.
Another gallery that we would like to put in the spotlight is that of WIELS, Centre for Contemporary Art. WIELS is housed in a former brewery, and this industrial architecture of 1930 is still preserved, including the copper kegs. This setting is perfect for the eccentric and provocative pieces of WIELS, such as the animal replicas of Kosovar artist Petrit Halilaj or the spotted pink balloons by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It is also the place of six affiliated studios where young artists are given the chance to realize their dream to pursue art and to show their work in this beautiful and inspiring place.
It seems like more and more art emerges in Brussels, and that's pretty much right. Almost every weekend there is an art fair to be found; big or small, old or modern... They consist of a whole range of different influences and budgets. The big names include Art Brussels and BRAFA Art Fair. If you want to check out some young talent we recommend Off Course Art Fair and the Young International Art Fair. There is some amazing art to be found for all budgets there, as well as at the Affordable Art Fair and Accessible Art Fair!
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