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Flemish portraits, science fiction, and an avant-garde centenary

5 January 2017

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) is closed for refurbishment until 2019, but in the meantime some of the highlights of its collection are on loan to other institutions in the region in what the museum calls its ‘closed but close by’ programme. One of the highlights of this series looks to be ‘Neighbours: Portraits from Flanders 1400–1700’ at the Mauritshuis this autumn (7 September–14 January 2018). Works by Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Peter Paul Rubens, and Anthony van Dyck, among others will be shown alongside portraits from the Mauritshuis’ own collection to reveal the world of both the artists and sitters.

Thematic shows can be tricky to stage in the vast space of the Barbican Art Gallery so the decision to take ‘Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction’ (3 June–1 September) into the Centre’s Curve Gallery, Foyer, and Pit Theatre sounds like a sprawling, but ambitious proposition. The exhibition will bring together manuscripts by writers such as Jules Verne, models for groundbreaking films, and graphic design. It will be interesting to see whether the show can make physical objects and digital design work together to create an argument.

The first issue of De Stijl magazine was published in October 1917. To celebrate the centenary of the Dutch art and design movement that formed around Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and Gerrit Rietveld, Dutch museums will be presenting De Stijl objects from their collections and putting on special exhibitions. There will be three exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, alone (the Gemeentemuseum holds the largest collection of works by Mondrian in the world) and the Stedelijk’s ‘100 Years of De Stijl’ programme will also make connections with that other world-changing event of 1917: the Russian Revolution.

Fatema Ahmed is deputy editor of Apollo.
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