Since the founding of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1975, Panamarenko has been a key artist for the museum. It is no coincidence that the first acquisition for the collection was the work ‘Deltavliegtuig P-1 Piewan’ (1975). This was joined by the artist’s magnum opus in 1980, when the museum purchased ‘The Aeromodeller’ (1969-1971). Together with numerous other sculptures and drawings, these works form a coherent ensemble that can undoubtedly be seen as one of the cornerstones of the S.M.A.K. collection. We present a selection of works on paper that provide a deeper insight into the realisation process that preceded his artworks.
Henri Van Herwegen first made himself heard in the mid 1960s. He came up with the pseudonym Panamarenko – a reference to Pan American Airlines, with a Russian-like suffix – and in 1966 had his first solo exhibition in the Wide White Space Gallery in Antwerp, with actions, happenings and a number of poetic objects. Through the gallery he came into contact with foreign artists, such as Joseph Beuys, who convinced Panamarenko that what he made was art. In the following decades, Panamarenko became famous for his fantastical aeroplanes, cars, submarines and fragile mechanical creatures. He stopped his artistic activities in 2005 and retired. The artist died on December 14, 2019.