Michel Grandsard / Axel Vervoordt
Antwerp, Leuvenstraat 32
1987 / 2017
The permanent collection of the M HKA consists of 5000 works of art. In the past these were seldom shown, sometimes in combination with the exhibitions. This was very unfortunate and therefore action was taken in 2017. A piece from the ground floor has been taken for a presentation of 25 pieces from this collection. At the same time, the entrance also changed: you now enter the reading room. From the reading room you can go to the free part with the permanent collection (left) and behind the counter is the paying collection (right). The reading room does not contain all 35,000 books and catalogs, only a selection. Here you can read, rest, work, wait, etc.
Between the books you will also find works of art, such as Madonna by Koen van den Broek, based on one of my favorites pieces of art from the KMSKA collection by Jean Fouquet from 1452. The cupboards are made with recuperation wood. The budget was limited, but Axel Vervoordt committed himself to this project because he wanted to give something back to the city. Vervoordt does not like different artworks in one room, that gives too many impressions. That is why he had a kind of labyrinth built for the permanent collection. One piece of art per wall, so that you can fully enjoy it. Another advantage of the labyrinth: more art works in a limited space.
The complete ground floor has been redesigned by antique dealer and art dealer Axel Vervoordt and architect Tatsuro Miki. The renovation only lasted 3 months, a tricky job. Vervoord wanted to bring intimacy to a previously open museum. The floor plan of the ground floor is divided into five parts, each with a different geometric shape. There is a circle on the outside, a square, a triangle, a rectangle according to the golden section and a longer rectangle with 6 symmetrically placed columns (the reading room). What makes it even more special is that there are no windows anywhere. There is no connection with the outside world to orient you.
The M HKA has its origins in the 60s and 70s. Especially the intervention of Gordon Matta-Clark in a building over the Steen was one of the highlights. He transformed the building into a work of art by cutting geometric shapes out of the building. Despite actions to save the building, this did not happen. But here in the collection there is still a door and pictures of the intervention.
Artists from Antwerp
The M HKA owns five paintings by Luc Tuymans (those of the Glasses exhibition and the Dead Skull artwork in the MAS). An early work by Jan Fabre is fascinating, it is entitled “I’m busy dreaming”. It is a reference to his fascination with insects and meat. There is also a Panamarenko, not coincidentally, because the M HKA also owns his former home and studio in Antwerp. The museum also has the largest Panamarenko collection in the world.
M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art
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