The location of Antwerp for its first museum dedicated solely to graphic works was a conscious choice. The city is, after all, not only an intersection of the north-south axis, it is also a contemporary centre of culture. Furthermore, there has been a tradition of printmaking in Antwerp for centuries. Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his offspring are evidence of this, but also the printers Christoffel Platijn and Jan Moretus. Illustrative art gave the possibility of bringing a message across through art, with or without a critical undertone. The extensive and unique collection of Museum De Reede is comprised in particular of works by three masters of graphic art:
Francisco Goya, Félicien Rops and Edvard Munch.
The collection is made up of works on paper: lithographs, engravings, etchings, woodprints and drawings by more than a dozen artists from seven countries, three continents and covering five centuries from the 17th to the 21st. The core of the collection is around 150 works by three of the greatest engravers of all time; three artists who each have mankind as their subject. Francisco Goya and Félicien Rops concentrate on their fellow man and the dissection of society, while Edvard Munch turned to his own interior life.
What is unique about Goya, what makes Goya himself, is not that he is considered the father of modern art, forerunner of all later movements from the romantic school to cubism. What distinguishes him is his criticism of the changing world in which he lives, from the 18th to the 19th century. With his graphic art he intends to reach as much of the public as possible, to hold up a mirror rather than to entertain. The fact that much of his work was only printed long after his death underlines the timelessness of his creative talents.
To portray Rops in ‘a single brush stroke’ is impossible as he is too multidimensional. If one had to though it would be as a man unafraid of living. His own motto, ‘Aultre ne veulx estre’ (‘I do not wish to be anyone else’) sums it up. His sincerity as an artist, his individuality through everything, is what makes Rops the man rise above conformity and convention. Compromise and political correctness did not exist for him. This shines through his work and makes him seem modern to this day.
Barely a thin film separates life from death in Edvard Munch’s art. Experiencing the deaths of both his mother and, later, his sister early on in his life convinced him forever of life’s fragility. All his emotions originated from this understanding and subsequently manifested themselves in his work. Death was not his idol. He searched for the connection between life and death, something he described as ‘metabolism’. His attitude towards life based on this thought is what brought Munch to reach the level of art that he did.
Museum De Reede is currently recruiting art lovers to help in various capacities on a voluntary basis, such as receptionists, guards, tour guides, researcher, librarian and archiver. As well as a sense of satisfaction, a small remuneration will be available.
Should you be interested, please visit our contact page.
It is our intention to offer the following initiatives in the foreseeable future:
Enjoy a culinary experience surrounded by art following a guided tour.
For pupils and students in relation to their curriculum.
Discussing topics derived from art or literature.
In the shape of mini concerts in the museum.