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Smaller paintings were hung either high or very low, creating a dynamic overall spatial composition reminiscent of De Stijl aesthetics, but also forcing the audience to literally take a different view of contemporary art. A final striking gesture by Van Eyck to work with the scale of the large rooms and the relatively modest character of the artworks was the use of low, horizontal platforms, made out of plain planks. Prints and drawings were laid out on these in various configurations. The platforms were painted either black or white (although a proper source for the correct shades is missing; we only have a few black and white photos as archival evidence), they could be grouped into bigger elements.

In 1951 the second edition of the show was installed in Liège at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. This edition involved more artists from Belgium, plus a few older artists admired by Cobra: Miró and Giacometti, among others. The poets section was dropped, while a film festival was added. Van Eyck completely redesigned the exhibition, yet with similar techniques and an even more radical approach to the pedestals, not only low and horizontal, but now often with only a single sculpture on them. Some of the platforms were materialised as beds of coal – apparently with an eye to the local context of the Belgian mines – the largest of which served as the backdrop for the small stone sculptures by Henry Heerup.

Text Dirk van den Heuvel. First published in the catalogue accompanying the Art on Display exhibition.

Penelope Curtis, Dirk van den Heuvel
jo taillieu architecten
Goda Budvytyte
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
LEVS architecten, WDJARCHITECTEN, Hubert-Jan Henket

Art on Display 1949-69 is part of a series of exhibitions consisting of 1:1 models that focus on the specific qualities of the interior at the intersection of architecture and design.