MAS – Museum aan de Stroom
Co-curator of Rare and Indispensable
Thomas Leysen, Chair of the Topstukkenraad (Masterpieces Council), is an entrepreneur and art collector. He was board member of CODART and chair of the Friends of CODART Foundation, and currently chairs the Rubenianum Fund and the Trustees of the Museum Mayer van den Bergh.
Ben van Beneden
Co-curator of Rare and Indispensable
Ben (Benjamin) van Beneden is a member of the Topstukkenraad (Masterpieces Council) and art historian. He began his career at the Rubenianum in Antwerp and subsequently worked at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp. In 2010 he became director of the Rubenshuis, from which he retired in 2021. He is co-author of the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, the catalogue raisonné of Rubens’s oeuvre. Ben van Beneden is currently preparing a publication on Rubens’s designs for small sculptures and decorative objects.
Rare and Indispensable
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Flemish Masterpiece Decree, the exhibition Rare and Indispensable (Zeldzaam en Onmisbaar) at the MAS shows 100 artworks that are included on the list of Flemish masterpieces. Selected by curators Ben van Beneden and Thomas Leysen, the exhibition brings together works from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century. On display are masterpieces by Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling, Peter Paul Rubens but also Clara Peeters, Maria Fayd’herbe as well as Francis Bacon, Henry Moore and Tom Wesselman. More than twenty museums, churches, convents and private collectors have lent objects to this unique exhibition. More information about the exhibition and the Masterpiece Decree can be found here.
Curator of From Scribble to Cartoon
Virginie D’haene is Curator Old Master Prints and Drawings at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp. She joined the museum in January 2018, after working at the Print Room of Musea Brugge for seven years. Her main field of interest is Netherlandish and Flemish old master drawings. D’Haene published on the topic in Master Drawings, contributed to various catalogues, and presented her research at conferences in Madrid, Cambridge and Berlin. D’Haene is the editor and contributing author of the exhibition catalogue European Old Master Drawings from the Bruges Print Room (2019). Her latest exhibition catalogue From Scribble to Cartoon (Antwerp 2023) was awarded with a grant from the Getty Foundation in honor of its innovative approach.
From Scribble to Cartoon
In this exhibition, Museum Plantin-Moretus showcases 80 of the most beautiful Old Master drawings from Flemish collections. From Scribble to Cartoon (Van crabbelinge tot carton) offers an astonishing overview of the art of drawing in the Southern Netherlands during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. What makes this exhibition stand out is that it focuses primarily on the many functions of drawing in this period. It challenges visitors to look beyond a drawing’s subject and composition, encouraging them to consider how and why it was created, and why artists chose specific materials, techniques, formats, and even sizes. The exhibition thus provides a framework that allows visitors to view drawings within the functional context for which they were originally intended. It features drawings by renowned artists such as Pieter Bruegel, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, and many others, some of which have never been previously displayed to the public. The exhibition will take place at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in autumn 2023, after which it will travel to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford.
Co-curator of Turning Heads
Koen Bulckens is Curator of Old Masters at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA). He studied Art and Archeology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. In 2011 he started working as Research Curator at the KMSKA, where he has been Curator of Old Masters since 2020. His volume of the Corpus Rubenianum was published in 2017 and in 2023 he obtained his PhD at Brown University with a dissertation about the studio of Rubens. He co-curated the exhibition Turning Heads with Nico Van Hout and he is one of the catalogue’s authors.
To be fascinated with faces is of all times and cultures. Turning Heads (Krasse Koppen) delves deeper into that fixation, and into a remarkable genre in painting that has received little attention: so-called tronies. Faces in which the identity of the model did not matter and with which the painter could do as he pleased. The greatest masters painted tronies: Dürer, Bruegel, Massijs, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer… The exhibition Turning Heads sheds new light on a genre that is older and more versatile than one might think.