The historical abstract movement in Belgium gains attention only after some delay. At the end of the 1950’s there are some 20 years elapsed by the time people attempt to collect the testimonies of the artists still living at the time. The systematic search for archives and the preservation of the material comes into play even later. Around the 1980’s, the necessity for disclosure is patently apparent. During the entirety of this process a great deal of material is already commercially shredded or gone lost due to a lack of interest. The result is then that many archives, and in particular the artists’ archives, linger within a hybrid zone: partially public, partially lost, and often undisclosed.

The list below is exemplary in that through its diversity it provides a state of affairs for the year 2016. Some archives are in the possession of public institutions, but are not yet accessible. Others are then again partially disclosed, and so forth. Thus, for example, the archive of Felix De Boeck is gifted nearly in its entirety to the Flemish Community, but is not yet disclosed to the public. The City of Antwerp has acquired the most important archives of Michel Seuphor and the Letterenhuis ensures for its disclosure. However, also private foundations, such as the Luc Peire Foundation, openly present their archives for research. The driving necessity is to combine the archives of artists that are now dispersed amongst various owners into a clearly defined network and to make them accessible. The archive of the figurehead Jozef Peeters, for example, is today dispersed amongst the Letterenhuis, the Archives of Contemporary Art in Belgium and in other private collections.

Archives are, in other words, works in progress. Due to the recent interest in the abstract art in Belgium, a great deal of new archives are surfacing. With the help of Archiefbank Vlaanderen and through collaboration and the sharing of expertise, museums are working sensibly and helping out so that the continuously growing potential is brought into the picture.



Sergio Servellón & Michel Vermote (Archiefbank Vlaanderen) 


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