Rik Wouters

The Musée d’Ixelles is paying its particular homage to the First World War through the exhibition “Belgian artists between exile and melancholy” in which you follow the works and the mishaps of a group of young Belgian artist during the Great War.

“The crazy virgin” by Rik Wouters.

Rik Wouters (1882-1916) stands out among them with his brief but intense career. In contrast to the rest, he began his artistic life as a sculptor to become later a painter (like most of them). In the exhibition, you can admire one of his best-known sculptures, “the crazy virgin”, a dizzyingly three-dimensional—it is fascinating from any angle—sculpture inspired by the American dancer Isadora Duncan. Despite dancers were a favourite theme in Art Nouveau and Art Deco sculpture, his is exceptional: the title is appropriate insofar as we want to underline it as a pure explosion of energy and life. Indeed, this dancer is rather an exception in his style, which is generally much more static, focused on the reflection of light on the figures. Wouters is so versatile that there is no consensus in order to classify him; some consider him a post-impressionist while others see in him a fauvist.

Rik Wouters : Rik Wouters, autoportrait

Selfportrait by Rik Wouters.

Wouters spent nine months in an interment camp in Holland during the first year of war; later, he would stay in Amsterdam, seduced by its museums. He would die soon afterwards of a face cancer. His friend the painter Edgard Tytgat illustrated his life in a collection of engravings (also shown at the exhibition).