In the years 1920-1930, Flemish Expressionism was the dominant art movement in these regions. Artists who worked in this style combined elements from European Expressionism as well as from Cubism with scenes and subjects that were often simple and 'popular'. Here and there, though, there were infiltrations of influences from abstract art, which was called 'zuivere beelding' in Dutch, or 'pure visualisation'. It took hold at the end of World War I in Antwerp, in the circle around essayist Michel Seuphor and poet Paul van Ostaijen. The MSK collection includes a few works that represent this abstract trend.
In the period between the two wars, discussions on the relations between culture, human nature, art and 'reality' culminated in Dadaism and Surrealism. Brussels was a major centre of Surrealist art, with a web of periodicals, art dealers, art shows... Many foreign artists felt quite at home here. Surrealism, that originated in France around 1920, wanted to give free rein to the subconscious in order to liberate people from the strict constraints of reason and logic. That is why they attached great importance to the dream and to the 'primitive'. After World War II, Surrealism was already past its peak, but the effects of this movement and its attitude have continued to live on in art until the present.
An open endBy now, these most recent movements that are represented in the collection of the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts have become 'classic' themselves. For the time being, they constitute the museum's 'open end', as no collection, by definition, is ever 'complete'. Not just because complementing works can always be added, but also because present-day 'contemporary' art will eventually become 'history' too.