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Contemporary art in Antwerp

Antwerp not only boasts a rich art history but also a vibrant contemporary art scene, with the M HKA serving as a pivotal pioneer and hub. Scattered throughout the districts, bustling studios, renowned art schools, and numerous large and specialised art galleries can be found. Additionally, Antwerp also hosts international art events. 

Key artworks at the M HKA

Antwerp’s art scene has been profoundly influenced by significant artists like Panamarenko, Luc Tuymans, and Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven (AMVK). Their seminal works are prominently featured in the diverse collection of the M HKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp. Today, the M HKA is a leading international museum of contemporary visual art and visual culture, situated in the dynamic Zuid district of Antwerp, a cultural hub in its own right.

Old and new art in dialogue

Nearby the M HKA, you’ll discover the Museum of Photography. FOMU showcases works by renowned photographers alongside work by contemporary artists. In other city museums like the MAS, the Museum Plantin-Moretus, and the Museum Mayer van den Bergh, the collections often engage in dialogue with contemporary art. Kunsthal ExtraCity presents contemporary art within an old church, offering a unique setting.

Art galleries across the city

Antwerp proves to be a favourable city for gallerists. For decades, the streets flanking the M HKA and the KMSKA in the Zuid have served as a major hotspot, as have the adjacent streets off Turnhoutsebaan in Borgerhout. Legendary is Adriaan Raemdonck’s Zwarte Panter (Black Panther) gallery on Hoogstraat, renowned for its often-unconventional approach to exhibitions. Additionally, an inspiring art gallery scene flourishes on and around the Eilandje district.

New art galleries in Nieuw Zuid

With the urban expansion in Nieuw Zuid, the two most renowned international galleries relocated to the new district. The Tim Van Laere Gallery represents renowned artists such as Rinus Van de Velde, Dennis Tyfus, Franz West, and Kati Heck. Barely 100 meters away lies Gallery Sofie Van de Velde, another showcase for innovative and challenging art, featuring artists such as Folkert de Jong, Max Pinckers, Charline Tyberghien, and Guy Mees, among others.

Art in the open

At the Middelheim Museum on the edge of the city, visitors can discover art in the open air. The special combination of sculpture and nature in a historic park setting makes a visit to the museum extra special. The permanent collection showcases the versatility of modern and contemporary sculpture. The annual summer exhibitions are dedicated to one or more contemporary visual artists.

Two renowned art schools

The hotbeds of artistic talent are the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and St. Lucas. Both renowned art schools attract talented artists from all over the world. Incidentally, the Academy in the university district was one of the first art schools in the world. Regularly, visitors can explore exhibitions featuring students’ work or attend lectures and performances at places like St. Lucas in the Markgrave neighbourhood.

Open workshops

Creativity flourishes everywhere, as evidenced by the hundreds of studios belonging to artists, both professional and amateur, scattered across the city. Some studios are organised and grouped together, such as those at MORPHO, located just next to the zoo. Often, they remain out of view and closed to the public. Once a year, visitors get the chance to look inside during the Open Ateliers event. These viewing days are typically organised on a district-by-district basis.

Antwerp Art Weekend in May

During the Antwerp Art Weekend in May, numerous galleries, museums, and cultural centres open their doors to the public. Artist talks, lectures, performances, tours, and other events provide a unique opportunity for local and international artists to showcase their work and connect with a wide audience.

Art Antwerp Fair in December

Another must-attend event is the annual art fair, Antwerp Art Fair. Held in the halls of Antwerp Expo in mid-December, it brings together art lovers, collectors, gallery owners, and professionals from the art world to present and discover the latest developments in the art scene. Open to all, it is an event not to be missed.