a Story of The Image – Old & New Masters from Antwerp

Held at the National History Museum (it is now called National Museum of Singapore, we lost our “History” !!!) from 14 Aug 2009 until 31 Oct 2009 (extended from 4 Oct), “a Story of The Image – Old & New Masters from Antwerp” is a small exhibition showcasing a collection of modern and early works (from the the 1500s onwards) from the Belgian city in the Flanders region, curated from 3 museums, namely, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum Plantin-Moretus and Museum of Contemporary Art (MuHKA). Due to the behind-the-scene hardwork of the SFS, audience who attended the film screening of ‘Waltz with Bashir’ at the Animation Nation 2009 were able to exchanged their ticket stubs for free entry to this exhibition as well as the History Gallery permanent exhibition (normal entry at S$10 for adults as of Oct 2009).

So of course I went. 😀 On the 2nd last day.

Since flash photography was not allowed, please excuse the quality of these handphone camera pictures, though I was surprised by the clarity of the some of the close-ups of the etchings and engravings. Anyway, I feel the lighting is too uneven and dim to enable any good photos to be taken without long exposures, the colours never come out right 😦

And these are some of the works I saw:

In Flanders Field by Berlinde de Brucykere
In Flanders Field by Berlinde de Brucykere


Probably the biggest installation art piece there (and probably got the most number of photos taken) is Berlinde de Brucykere’s In Flanders Field, 2000 in Room 12. Made of life-sized casts of horses and covered with real horse-fur, this is the only thought-provoking modern piece for me, personally speaking. Especially since it came so soon after I watched ‘Waltz with Bashir’. The artist was said to have been inspired by photos of dead horses in WWI battlefields. More close-ups here:

In Flanders Field by Berlinde de Brucykere DSC00078-copy DSC00079-copy
DSC00085-copy DSC00077-copy DSC00084-copy


Of the 3 Gert Robijns pieces, I was only intrigued enough by his video installation “Speed Take it easy” to actually bother to test out the motion sensors installed. Quote from museum’s visitor’s guide, ” On a small screen on the ground a mouse is nibbling on a piece of cheese. When one approaches, the mouse disappears into a complex of cardboard pipes. On the other end, the same experience awaits the viewer. With this highly elementary form of interaction, the artist evokes frustration. You can never really see the image. Approaching the image always causes it to disappear …” So I avoided the motion sensors and watched the mouse nibble for a long time … Then I went to the other end and did the same. The small screens showing the mouse are at opposite ends of the snaking pipe, no bigger than A5 size thereabouts. Speedy Take it aasy by Gert Robijns
Speedy Take it easy by Gert Robijns. The video installation is the white snaking pipe and platforms on the floor.

More snapshots of some of the modern pieces :

235 more or less important photographs from the second half of the 20th Century (1986-95), by Guillaume Bijl.
Guillaume Bijl Guillaume Bijl Guillaume Bijl
Dog in snow … Dog not in snow … Dog in bath tub …

The above are 3 of the more or less important photographs for me from the 235 more or less important photographs from the second half of the 20th Century


Personage (1991) by Narcisse Tordoir
Drawings from 1974 to 2002 by Anne-Mie Van Kerchhoven
Pushing (1994) by Liza May Post


For those people (like me) who are unable to appreciate art like, quote “a sordid sheet with dried semen and photographs …”, the less said the better. 🙂

For the classic pieces, the focus is on Antwerp’s famous son Peter Paul Rubens, one of the Baroque masters, though only a few oil pieces of his were featured and the rest of the art pieces are by other notables such as Jan Breughel I and Anthony Van Dyck. Many etchings and engravings done by printing presses from the 1500s were also displayed, which for me, were the highlight of this show really. Call me an old fogey, yeah :). Take a look at the museum’s introduction to this exhibition here, to see some of the pieces and their artists highlighted …

St Cecilia at the organ, engraving by Schelte A. Bolswert based on Peter Paul Rubens DSC00051-copy DSC00053-copy St Cecilia at the organ, close-up of engraving.
Such engravings of well-known artists’ works enabled prints to be multiplied, therefore becoming a form of ‘marketing’ and ‘promotion’ of that artist and his studio, according to the museum guide.

A House of Ill-fame, engraving by Joannes I Sadeler based on Judocus Winghe. DSC00066-copy DSC00067 A House of Ill-fame, close-up of engraving.

Portrait of the Archduke Albert and Portrait of the Archduchess Isabel, engravings by Jan Muller DSC00071-copy DSC00065-copy Masked People with Rumbling Instruments, engraving by Jacob II de Gheyn

The Holy Virgin in a Garland of Flowers, oil by Daniel Seghers and Cornelis Schut DSC00072-copy DSC00073 The Holy Virgin in a Garland of Flowers, close-up of oil painting.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony of Egypt, oil by David Teniers II DSC00061-copy DSC00062 The Temptation of Saint Anthony of Egypt, close-up of oil painting.

The Five Senses: Seeing, Feeling, Hearing, Tasting, Smelling, oil by Gonzales Coques DSC00055-copy DSC00056-copy The Five Senses: Seeing, Feeling, Hearing, Tasting, Smelling, close-up of oil painting showing Hearing.

DSC00064-copy The Gathering of the Animals to Embark on Noah’s Ark before the Flood, oil by Jan van Kessel. Similar composition and style(?) to his grandfather’s piece, Noah’s Ark by Jan Breughel de Velours (Velvet Breughel)

DSC00054-copy Lamentation over the Dead Christ, oil by Peter Paul Rubens.
This is the only piece that could fit into my handphone camera and without artefacts/ reflections, so small was the display room. 😦

For more images on the art work and their artists, there is a page at the MuHKA showing some photos taken during the opening ceremony at NHM (National HISTORY Museum).

This list of artists as listed in the guide as follows, with the number of pieces shown indicated behind their respective names, with the ‘old masters’ shown in bold:

  • Francis Alÿs / 1
  • Sven Augustijnen / 1
  • Charif Benhelima / 5
  • Guillaume Bijl / 1
  • Manon de Boer / 2
  • Schelte A. Bolswert / 2 (engravings based on P.P.Rubens)
  • Dirk Braeckman / 4
  • Henri De Braekeleer / 1
  • Jan Breughel I / 1
  • Adriaen Brouwer / 1
  • Berlinde De Bruyckere / 1
  • David Claerbout / 1
  • H. Cock / 1 (etching based on Hans Bol)
  • Adriaan Collaert / 2 (engravings based on Jan Stradanus)
  • Vaast Colson / 1
  • Gonzales Coques / 1
  • Lili Dujourie / 1
  • Marlene Dumas / 2
  • Philips Galle / 4
  • Jacob II de Gheyn / 1
  • Tina Gillen / 1
  • Abel Grimmer / 1
  • René Heyvaert / 3
  • Frans Hogenberg / 1
  • Wenceslas Hollar / 1
  • Romeyn De Hooghe / 1
  • Raoul De Keyser / 2
  • Jan Kempenaers / 1
  • Hans Liefrinck / 1
  • Jacques Lizène / 1
  • Danny Matthys / 1
  • Guy Mees / 2
  • Jan Muller / 2 (engraving based on P.P.Rubens)
  • Honoré d’O / 1
  • Hans Op de Beeck / 1
  • Ria Pacquée / 1
  • Liza May Post / 1
  • David Rijckaert III / 1
  • Gert Robijns / 3
  • Peter Paul Rubens / 1
  • Joannes I Sadeler / 1
  • Jan J.Schoonhoven / 1
  • Daniël Seghers & Cornelis Schut / 1
  • Jan Steen / 1
  • Walter Swennen / 2
  • David Teniers II / 1
  • Toon Tersas / 1
  • Narcisse Tordoir / 1
  • Ana Torfs / 2
  • Joëlle Tuerlinckx / 1
  • Luc Tuymans / 2
  • Koen van den Broek / 2
  • Maarten Vanden Abeele / 1
  • Petrus van der Borcht / 1
  • Pieter van der Heyden / 2 (engraving based on Pieter I Brueghel)
  • Anthony Van Dyck / 2
  • Melchisedech van Hoorn / 1
  • Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven / 1
  • Jan I Van Kessel / 1
  • Abraham Verhoeven / 1
  • Dirk Vellert / 2
  • Paul de Vos / 1
  • Robert Zandvlet / 1

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