‘A gay little Flamand’: Verbeke Foundation honors Belgian surrealist E.L.T. Mesens

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His greatest coup? Buying 150 (!) Magritte paintings before they were auctioned off, when a gallery in Paris went bankrupt in 1932. And on the lighter side: Peggy Guggenheim mentions him in her well-known memoirs, as they had a fling. He called her ‘the old cathedral’ and she described him as ‘a gay little Flamand, quite vulgar, but really very nice and warm’. I am talking about E.L.T. Mesens, a key figure of the Belgian surrealist movement. I know surrealism is a bit outside the scope of this blog, but the Mesens retrospective (the first, they claim) set up by the Belgian Verbeke Foundation (through October 16) might be the reason you were looking for to make that trip to Kemzeke, to pay a visit to this highly unusual private collection with mostly contemporary (bio) art. A big part of the 200 works by Mesens on display are from Verbeke’s private collection, and you’ll undoubtedly notice that this exhibition is first and foremost a labor of love and that more could have been done to illustrate the life of this artist and art socialite. But at least they thought of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Mesens’ death. (all images: courtesy Verbeke Foundation)


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