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How it started…

On 10 June 2021, on World Art Nouveau Day, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region presented its intention to become the World Capital of Art Nouveau. An impressive strategy was disclosed, with the main goal being the promotion of Belgian Art Nouveau. To give their plans a spectacular head start, they even designated 2023 as the Year of Art Nouveau. And judging from the unveiled plans, 2023 is going to be a year to look forward to!!!

Capital of Art Nouveau Brussels 2023

Celebrating 130 Years of Art Nouveau

Brussels is preparing a year’s program full of initiatives in the region, for 2023. Why they decided on 2023? Because it is exactly 130 years after the construction of Victor Horta’s Hôtel Tassel, built in 1893 and considered the very first Art Nouveau building worldwide. The activities are for all kinds of audiences: architectural masterpieces open to the public, exhibitions, workshops, lectures, publications, interior visits, guided tours through the city, etc. The complete program can be found here.

Hôtel Tassel by Vistor Horta 1893

Hôtel Tassel by Victor Horta 1893

How it’s going…

Last month, Brussels invited journalists from all over Europe in order to give them a glimpse of what is about to come in 2023. And I was one of the lucky few. We were invited for a welcome speech at the head office of Delen Private Bank (sponsor of the Brussels Art Fair) which is actually a recently restored Art Nouveau building: Doctor H. Coppez’ Institut pour le traitement des maladies des yeux (Dr. Coppez’ Eye Hospital), designed by Jean-Baptiste Dewin (1873-1948) in 1912 at Avenue de Tervueren 68-70. NB. note the stained glass is shaped like eyes.


Institute for treatment of eye diseases by Jean-Baptiste Dewin 1912

Maison Cauchie will become a Museum

After the welcome speech, some coffee and a tour of the building we went on to Maison Cauchie at Rue des Francs 5. Maison Cauchie was designed by sgraffito-artist and architect Paul Cauchie (1875-1952) and his wife Caroline (Lina) Voet (1875-1969) in 1905. The house was their personal home, Paul’s workshop and his business card to attract potential customers.

In May 2022, Sotheby’s put an advertisement online: the Cauchie house was for sale. Heritage lovers from all over the world were worried. The region and municipality of Etterbeek were even considering expropriating the Cauchie house! But fortunately that was not necessary; the house was bought by an insurance cooperative and will be turned into a museum. Until then, the house will be open for visitors on Saturdays and every first Sunday of the month.

Maison Cauchie Brussel 2023

Photos courtesy of Maison Cauchie © phvercheval

Jonathan Mangelinckx, a Collector of Belgian Art Nouveau

We enjoyed a quick tour of Maison Cauchie en then visited the private home of collector Jonathan Mangelinckx. I had heard about his spectacular collection years ago and expected an offensively rich collector. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jonathan Mangelinckx has been collecting Belgian Art Nouveau since he was a teenager. Having rummaged flea markets, auction rooms and the Sablon Antiques market since he was 12 years old, his collection of nearly 300 works by Victor Horta, Paul Hankar, Henry Van de Velde, Gustave Serrurier-Bovy and many others, is now the subject of a monumental set of books.

Jonathan Mangelinckx Belgian Art_ Nouveau collection

The Jonathan Mangelinckx Collection embraces all fields of the decorative arts: furniture, ceramics, glass, ironwork, hardware, lighting, graphic works etc… And the series of books he is working on with a team of researchers, curators and academics, aims to fill a gap of knowledge about Belgian Art Nouveau. The books are based on pieces from his collection and complemented by a large body of archives and photographs from libraries and museums.

Jonathan Mangelinckx - Victor Horta, table de salle à manger, 1899-1903

Jonathan Mangelinckx | Victor Horta, dining room table, 1899-1903

Each volume revolves around one emblematic architect: Victor Horta is explored in the first volume that was published in 2019, Paul Hankar is the main character in the second volume which came out this year, and Henry Van de Velde will be the central figure in the last volume, to be published by the end of 2023. 

Each edition also highlights other protagonists, such as Paul Du Bois, Georges Hobé, Fernand Dubois, Léon Ledru, Adolphe Crespin, Émile Houbion, Léon Sneyers, Willy Finch and Théo Van Rysselberghe. All three books will eventually be available in French, English and Dutch and can be ordered online from Mangelinckx’ webshop: https://banb-collection.com/shop

In 2023, pieces from Jonathan’s collection will be lent to a new museum in the Hannon House. But before that, some unique art works will be presented during the 2023 edition of the BRAFA Art Fair, at the booth of the Royal Chamber of Antique Dealers of Belgium (ROCAD). It was a pleasure to meet Jonathan Mangelinckx and a revelation to realise what a difference one passionate collector can make. 

Hotel Hannon to open as art nouveau museum in 2023

Maison Hannon by Jules Brunfaut 1902

Maison Hannon to open as Art Nouveau Museum in 2023

The Hannon House was commissioned by Marie and Edouard Hannon from their architect friend Jules Brunfaut (1852-1942) in 1902. The couple had met with French master of Art Nouveau, Emile Gallé, at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Enthousiastic about his ‘modern’ style, they asked their friend Brunfaut to draw inspiration from houses by Victor Horta, Ernest Blérot, Octave Van Rysselberghe and Henry Van de Velde, and create them a unique home in the same style.

Jules Brunfaut, unfamiliar with Art Nouveau until then, achieved a master piece nonetheless. We did nót visit Maison Hannon during our press-trip, but I have visited the house before, hence the photos. And there is some really exciting news to share with you: Maison Hannon is currently under restoration and will open as a museum from 1 June 2023. At the new museum visitors can admire artwork that was designed for the house as well as the original furniture, including works by Emile Gallé.

Until the opening of the museum, you can find out more about Maison Hannon here, as I wrote about the house earlier. The new Hannon Museum will operate in close partnership with the nearby Horta Museum.

Sven Gatz, Rudi Vervoort, Pascal Smet & Paul Dujardin

Sven Gatz, Rudi Vervoort, Pascal Smet & Paul Dujardin presenting the plans

Prime Minister of Brussels-Capital Region Rudi Vervoort:

Brussels is undeniably the capital of Art Nouveau. The New York Times mentioned that already in 1990. As early as 1890, great architects like Horta broke the codes and created a total art which then influenced all artistic forms. These artists have enchanted the streets of Brussels for more than a century. From real estate to furniture and decorative objects, from crockery to haute couture; everything became curves and arabesques, flora and fauna, colours and light. It is therefore essential to continue to preserve, enhance and transmit the history and aesthetics of this exceptional heritage to as many people as possible.

Horta Museum Brussel

Photos courtecy of Musée Horta © Paul Louis

The Horta Museum showing Horta’s work in a Different way

Of course we did visit the Horta Museum during our press-tour. First of all, because we were going to get a sneak-peek of the carpet design for the 2023 edition of the BRAFA Art Fair. The carpet – 10,000 m2 in size (!) – will be based on original drawings by Victor Horta. The Museum is also planning an exhibition in 2023 in which they will present Horta in a different light. Victor Horta versus Art Nouveau – Horta’s Vocabulary is the title of that exhibition, opening mid March 2023. At the Centre for Fine Arts BOZAR (Victor Horta, 1928) another exhibition about Victor Horta will be organised. Victor Horta and the Grammar of Art Nouveau will open mid October 2023.

Revealing of carpet design for 2023 edition of BRAFA art fair based on original Horta drawings

Revealing the Carpet Design for the 2023 Edition of BRAFA Art Fair, based on original Horta Drawings

Dinner at Hôtel Max Hallet – a Dream come True

To end our Art Nouveau tour in style, we were invited to a dinner party at the magical Hôtel Max Hallet, a town house at 346 Avenue Louise, designed by Victor Horta in 1902. I had never before visited that exceptionally beautiful Horta-building. So you can imagine how excited I was to be invited to a dinner party there. We first got a guided tour of the building and garden by owner Michel Gilbert. I took dozens of pictures while roaming the accessible spaces of the house, until we finally got to sit down for dinner. It was hard to put my camera down. I do not remember what I ate, but I do remember the decorations on the wall vividly! I have wanted to visit this Art Nouveau gem for such a long time; it was a dream come true!

Hôtel Max Hallet Brussel

Hôtel Max Hallet by Victor Horta 1902

Hôtel Max Hallet is a private home, and not a museum. But your can book a guided tour via Explore Brussel, in case you want to visit this house. The same goes for Hôtel Solvay (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Cohn-Donnay House.

BRAFA to kick-off Art Nouveau Year 2023

From 29 January to 5 February 2023, the first major event of the Art Nouveau Year will be the Brussels Art Fair, or BRAFA in short. BRAFA is going to highlight the Art Nouveau movement in several ways. The King Baudouin Foundation and some galleries specialised in the field of Art Nouveau will be presenting exceptional Art Nouveau pieces. The BRAFA 2023 carpet will be based on original drawings by Victor Horta, and art lovers will be able to attend two “BRAFA Art Talks” devoted to Art Nouveau. One by Professor Werner Adriaenssens, Curator of the Twentieth-Century Collections at the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, and the other by Benjamin Zurstrassen, Curator of the Horta Museum.

Judging from the listed Art Nouveau events, I think it is safe to say that there is something to see or do in Brussels every day in 2023.

I am considering to move to Brussels now…. 🙂

The official program can be found here: Art Nouveau Brussel 2023

Continue Reading about the plans for 2023:
2023: Het Jaar van de Art Nouveau in Brussel – pascalsmet.com
2023: The Year of Art Nouveau in Brussels – WeLoveBrussels.org
2023 wordt het Jaar van de Art Nouveau in Brussel – Architectura.be
2023 wordt het jaar van de art nouveau in Brussel – Bruzz.be
Art Nouveau Brussels 2023 (Programme)
Art nouveau in de spotlight in Brussel: rondleidingen, lezingen en tentoonstellingen
Art-nouveauparel Hotel Hannon in Brussel wordt museum
Art-nouveau woning van architect Frankinet beschermd
Art nouveau woning van architect Hemelsoet wordt Brussels Erfgoed
Belgische Art Nouveau Belge – Collection Jonathan Mangelinckx
Brussels Art Nouveau Art Deco Festival 2023
Brussels as Capital of Art Nouveau Reinforced: Office van Eetvelde
Brussel, de art-nouveauhoofdstad
Brussels Art Nouveau Pass 2023
Brussel koopt voor €2 miljoen monumentaal art-nouveauhuis van Horta
Brussels region buys Art Nouveau treasure, the Horta-designed office of van Eetvelde
Brussels unveils strategy to become Art Nouveau capital
Cauchie House opens to the general public!
Eerste villa Van de Velde wordt gerenoveerd: ‘Op termijn open voor publiek’
Eindelijk renovatie voor Woning Beukman in Elsene
Hôtel Hannon to open as Art Nouveau museum in 2023
Hotel Solvay van Victor Horta wordt museum voor het grote publiek
Horta’s mooiste art-nouveauhuis Hôtel Solvay opent als museum
Horta-Wolfers – Heropening van de juwelierszaak Wolfers Frères
Inside Art Nouveau: discover the interiors of Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels
Jonathan Mangelinckx, aux sources de l’art nouveau belge
La maison Cauchie vendue: Elle restera accessible au public et sera agrandie
Maison Hanon na gedeeltelijke restauratie volgende zomer open als art-nouveaumuseum
Maison Hannon opent in juni 2023 als art-nouveaumuseum
New York Times: In Brussels, Art Nouveau Flourishes (8 July 1990)
Inside Art Nouveau – Art Nouveau Interiors Brussels Region
Stocletpaleis blijft voorlopig dicht voor bezoekers
Ten must-visit Art Nouveau houses and mansions in Brussels
We Love Brussels – by Dorka Demeter
Van Eetvelde Kantoor binnenkort toegankelijk voor de Brusselaars en bezoekers

NYT 8 July 1990 Art Nouveau flourishes in Brussels

New York Times – In Brussels, Art Nouveau flourishes (8 July 1990)