The collection of the Groeninge Museum was sporadically supplemented with contemporary art during the course of the 20th Century. In the 1960’s primarily work by artists from Bruges was acquired. In 1961, Manolete by Luc Peire was purchased, and five years later the artist gifted Agadir. In 1957, Still Life (with a drawing on the verso) by Gilbert Swimberghe was bought, followed by the abstract Composition with Red in 1967.
The acquisition of contemporary art was intensified after the recruitment of curator Dirk De Vos. The ensemble by Swimberghe was further supplemented in the 1970’s via purchases or gifts. In the time of the three Triennials (1968, 1971 and 1974) work by representative Belgian artists was purchased, thus came about a collection of Pop Art, Hyperrealism and New Expression, as well as an ensemble of Abstract Art with the emphasis on geometrical abstraction.
The purchases in the beginning of the 1970’s were bought by the City Council or Friends of the City Museum (upon advice from the curator). Amaterasoe by Gilbert Decock was bought by the Friends in 1972, and one year before a Composition by Dan Van Severen (exhibited at the second Triennial) was bought by the Friends, and in 1973 the City Council bought the impressive Square Composition. In that same year, the Friends purchased Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow by Amédéé Cortier. The purchases were made directly with the artists.
An ensemble of Cortier and Van Severen was built up in in the course of the 1980’s and especially in 1990. After the Friends had gifted the important Triptych by Van Severen in 1989, the years 1992 and 1993 were prominently important for the development of the collection. From a purchase from the widow and a gift, a nice overview of Amédéé Cortier was assembled, and the ensemble of Van Severen was supplemented with graphic art, purchased by Richard Foncke Gallery and the gift of a drawing by the artist in 1995. In 1992, Luc Peire gifted what was at the time his entire graphic art oeuvre.
The gestural abstract is represented on a smaller scale. In 1981, an important work by Pierre Alechinsky was purchased, and a year later Seafield by Bram Bogart was bought, supplemented by a gift of three works from various periods of the artists.
In 1996, the Groeningemuseum was the first museum in Belgium to purchase five crucial works by Georges Vantongerloo. The work was purchased by Angela Thomas Bill, the widow of the Swiss artist Max Bill, a friend of Vantongerloo.
In the collection of the Groeningemuseum Mark Verstockt (Squared Structures tapestry) and Felix De Boeck (Labour Triptych and Portrait of Guido Gezelle) are also represented.
Filip L. Demeyer
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