CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Queer Belgian Art. New Perspectives on Art in the Southern Low Countries (1400-1950)

20 February - 30 May 2027

Queer Belgian Art. New Perspectives on Art in the Southern Low Countries (1400-1950)

Exhibition: 20 February - 30 May 2027

In 2027, the MSK organizes Belgium’s first-ever queer fine art exhibition. Transcending the heteronormative gaze on art history, the exhibition will invite visitors to consider 500 years of art in the Southern Low Countries through an LGBTQIA+ lens and to discover surprising perspectives on gender and sexuality.

Five centuries of change

Accepted or forbidden forms of intimacy, shifting definitions of masculinity, femininity and non-binarism, purely sexual acts or an innate orientation: the history of both sexuality and gender identity and expression is one of continual evolution, which today we label under the overall term ‘queer’.

Consciously or unconsciously, artists have addressed these themes in many different ways. And the art created in the Southern Low Countries over the past five centuries presents equally diverse views of same-sex intimacy, transgressions of norms and fluid representations of the body. Sometimes we seem to recognize an artist’s personal preferences in their work. And sometimes we’re mainly looking for a reflection of ourselves in an image from the past.

Maerten van Heemskerck (1498-1574), Christ the Man of Sorrows, 1532
MSK Ghent

Hidden stories revealed

In 2027 the MSK will organize Belgium’s first-ever exhibition dedicated to queer interpretations in 500 years of art in the Southern Low Countries. Similar exhibitions organized in other countries have rarely paid attention to our region, even though artists from Rubens to Ensor have created works with queer perspectives.

By deliberately disregarding the traditionally cis-heteronormative focus of art history, accepting alternative interpretations and investigating historical cases, the exhibition will reveal how queer experiences changed over the centuries and how they were incorporated into art. This way, the museum explicitly invites visitors to look for new layers in the stories that we tell through our collections.

To further enrich the exhibition, the MSK is putting out a call for queer art.

This exhibition is curated by:
Dr. Bart Ooghe
Dr. Thijs Dekeukeleire
Dr. Jonas Boelens