Jan Vercruysse Dies at Age 69

Saturday, March 3, 2018
Jan Vercruysse Dies at Age 69

With a career that spanned over four decades, Jan Vercruysse was considered one of Europe’s most influential conceptual artists.

With a career that spanned over four decades, Jan Vercruysse was considered one of Europe’s most influential conceptual artists. A poet in his youth, Vercruysse decided in 1974 to focus on the visual arts by working predominantly in series. From his earliest photographic self-portraits to his sculptural still lifes, each series is a remarkable creation suggestive of interiors or furniture, theater settings or architecture, yet they often seem absent of an immediate identifiable content, as if they confront the viewer with a riddle. It is an art that questions our interaction with it; an art that investigates the way we see and understand it in today’s visually overcrowded world; and an art that seeks to find, and to define, its own philosophical place within a rapidly evolving world. His earliest photographic works recreated historical subjects, such as self-portraits, still lifes and mythological scenes. Gradually, he evolved a sculptural vocabulary of narrow rooms, empty frames and bases without objects. The sacred spaces created by Vercruysse in these works are known as Chambres or Tombeauxand represent the artist’s last-ditched attempts to create art that refers only to itself. His later works, such as plaster pianos, blue Murano glass musical instruments and bronze and ceramic turtles, achieve a perfect equilibrium between conceptual conviction and aesthetic concerns, and also reflect a real pleasure of making.

Jan Vercruysse was born in 1948 in Ostend, Belgium and died in 2018 in Bruges, Belgium. Solo exhibitions included Kunsthalle, Bern (1989); Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1990, 1997); the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1993); Mies van der Rohe's Museum Haus Lange and Haus Esters in Krefeld (1995); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1999); Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle (2001) and Museum M in Leuven (2009). His work is part of many important American and European museum collections.

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Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

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