G58 & ZERO / The revival of avant-garde art
G58 was a collective of artists that was mainly active in Antwerp from the fifties. After World War II the city needed to be rebuilt, by means of architecture, arts and social event. The collective contributed to the revival of avant-garde art and brought this art scene from Brussels to Antwerp. An open-air sculpture exhibition in Middelheim park in 1950 brought art to the harbor city. Through events such as these, as well as various magazines and the running up to Expo 58, poets and artists got in touch with each other. The Middelheim park castle became an exhibition space, hosting seven solo exhibitions. Later, the collective moved to the derelict 16th-century Hessenhuis. The artists themselves renovated the premises and transformed them into exhibition space. The G58-Hessenhuis group represented pluralist, experimental art. In November 1958, the members of G 58-Hessenhuis staged their first group exhibition. 26 artists took part, amongst them Vic Gentils, Pol Mara, Cel Overberghe, Jan Dries and Dan Van Severen. A number of pioneers of the Antwerp avant-garde scene, Jozef Peeters, Renaat Braem and René Guiette, were elected honorary members.
In 1958, German artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded the ZERO group in Düsseldorf, a European version of Colorfield Painting. However, ZERO artists mostly worked in monochrome, often in white. They strived for a new harmony in the relationship between man and nature, and avoided individual tracks in their art. The name Zero was reminiscent of the countdown before launching a rocket.The ZERO group had many international contacts, amongst others with Italian Lucio Fontana, Frenchman Yves Klein and Swiss Jean Tinguely, as well as with Belgian artists Pol Bury, Walter Leblanc, Jef Verheyen and Paul Van Hoeydonck. ZERO is characterized by light, movement and monochrome painting. In order to work with light and shade, the artists often used relief in their work, blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture.
The exhibition G58 & ZERO shows the influential art collectives G58 and De Nieuwe Vlaamse School, which had strong connections with the international ZERO movement. Guest curator Sofie Van Den Bussche shows the important role Antwerp artists played on the international arts scene during the post-war years.
The exhibition is shown in CAMPO Antwerp until 20th December.
Left: Exhibition poster for G58 at the Middelheim park in Antwerp
Right: Ink on paper of Paul Van Hoeydonck, Composition, 1955.
Left: Invitation ‘Anti – Peinture’, G 58 – hessenhuis, 1962
Right: Painting by Paul Van Hoeydonck, Composition, 1955
left: Lucio Fontana’s canvas-puncturing technique
Right: The exhibition G58 & ZERO shows the influential art collectives G58 and De Nieuwe Vlaamse School, which had strong connections with the international ZERO movement.
Left: Detail of Torsions by Walter Leblanc, 1974
Right: Geometrical painting by Guy Vandenbranden, 1960
WORDS BY STEPHANIE DE SMET