Collection Matthys-Colle

WEBESSELMAN

Since last year, S.M.A.K. has been managing a selection of artworks from the Matthys-Colle Foundation. The start of this public-private partnership, which is unique in Belgium, was marked by the Flemish Community’s purchase of a painting from this collection for the museum: ‘Great American Nude #45’ (1963) by the American pop artist Tom Wesselmann. This acquisition was accompanied by the long-term loan of 39 other artworks from Mr Roger and Mrs Hilda Matthys-Colle’s prestigious collection, all by internationally renowned artists.

The couple Matthys-Colle collected during the 2nd half of the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on innovative artistic attitudes. Their focus was mainly abroad, where in cities such as New York, Paris and Düsseldorf they purchased works by artists whose oeuvres were in full development at the time. They often did this just after the works were created, which means the collection includes early masterpieces by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Cy Twombly.

The Matthys-Colle Collection is coming home to S.M.A.K., as it were. In 1957, Roger Matthys, together with Karel Geirlandt, was one of the founders of the Vereniging voor het Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (V.M.H.K.), now the Friends of S.M.A.K. The V.M.H.K. strove for contemporary art’s public right to exist in our region and purchased artworks with a view to establishing an autonomous contemporary art museum. Under Matthys’ chairmanship of the V.M.H.K. (1974-79), the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (M.H.K.), now S.M.A.K., was finally established in 1975. Thanks to his vision and international connections, Matthys was hugely influential in shaping the V.M.H.K.’s collection. The parallels between the Matthys-Colle Collection and that of the V.M.H.K. are plain to see. It is striking, for example, that artists from the fields of minimalism and conceptual art are richly represented in both collections.

Over the next few years, S.M.A.K. will organise a series of research exhibitions and activities, with works from the Matthys-Colle Collection forming the point of departure each time. A first exhibition is planned for the autumn of 2021. It will focus on pop art, a movement that plays a prominent role in both the S.M.A.K. collection and the Matthys-Colle Collection. The publication ‘La Collection et son Double’ will explain the relationship between the two collections in depth.

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