László Moholy-Nagy, Het Overzicht (cover), collection Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent.

Het Overzicht (Onafhankelijk tijdschrift voor Zuid-Nederland/ Half-Maandelijks Tijdschrift. Kunst-Letteren-Mensheid/ Independent periodical for South Netherlands/Bi-monthly Periodical. Art-Letters-Humanity) is viewed as the leading arts publication for the Belgian Abstract movement in the beginning of the 1920’s. This recognition is primarily based upon the change of course, beginning with number 13 (November 1922), which the paper receives under the impetus of Jozef Peeters. Het Overzicht, the brainchild of Fernand Berckelaers (Michel Seuphor) and Geert Pijnenburg, starts as a Flemish-leaning paper and changes with the arrival of Peeters as Co-Director into an arts’ polemic paper that is ‘totally orthodox and not eclectic’. As a forum for a new zeitgeist, it fits in amongst an international network of avant-garde publications, among which are Manomètre, Der Sturm, L’Esprit Nouveau, Noi and Ma. The richly illustrated and luxurious publication constantly showcases specially designed covers by Belgian artists such as Victor Servranckx and Karel Maes, as well as renowned international artists including Lázló Moholy-Nagy (1895 - 1946) and Robert Delaunay (1885 - 1941). In the paper, image contributions are also published by Enrico Prampolini (1894 - 1956), Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Lajos Kassak (1887 - 1967) and many others. In addition to loose-leaf coloured lithographs, as a publisher, Het Overzicht also provides supplements such as Prise vues, des cris, des coupures with a cover drawing by Kurt Schwitters (1887 - 1948).

Peeters’ ambition stems from the offering of an alternative for the ideas of Theo Van Doesburg (1883 - 1931) and De Stijl. He outlines his own points of departure in his manifestos Introduction to the Modern Plastic and Public Art. Berckelaers and Peeters undertake various trips abroad and thereby meet with Herwarth Walden (1878 - 1941), Adolf Behne (1885 - 1948), Walter Gropius (1883 - 1969), Rudolf Belling (1886 - 1972), Prampolini and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876 - 1941), among others. These contacts encounter a response in the contributions of Het Overzicht and make Peeters and Berckelaers pivotal figures of the Flemish avant-garde. In March 1924, they present a special ‘Flemish’ edition of Der Sturm along with the texts of Pierre Bourgeois, Maurice Casteels and Paul Van Ostaijen (1896 - 1928) and images by Victor Bourgeois, Felix De Boeck, Jos Léonard, Karel Maes as well as Peeters himself.

The original subscribers shall quickly distance themselves from the new, international orientation and the switch from the political and ethical to the purely aesthetic. Ultimately the story of Het Overzicht stops with the departure of Berckelaers to Paris in March 1925, at the moment that number 24 is published. While Berckelaers works further on an international reputation under the name of Michel Seuphor, Peeters embarks along with Van Ostaijen and Eddy Du Perron on the last Flemish avant-garde adventure: the radical art periodical De Driehoek.


Sergio Servellón


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