Brussels can be discovered in several ways. We walk there to appreciate its old quarters (Grand Place), its art of living (restaurants, bars, shows), its Art Nouveau architecture, its museums and galleries ... Among these are many addresses devoted to various forms of current art. Street art works are also plentiful, as are frescoes inspired by comic book characters. Brussels, an intensely contemporary city… Head for the Belgian capital for an arty weekend!
A flowering of galleries
- galleries contemporary art have multiplied in recent years in Brussels, particularly on both sides of avenue Louise, as well as in neighborhoods under renovation such as those along the canal.
Belgian and foreign gallery owners find spacious places here at relatively moderate prices to settle in, as well as a large clientele local - reputed to be a very collector - or passing through, given the city's position on the international scene.
The galleries are opened in successive waves. In addition to the natives, for example Albert Baronian, Xavier Hufkens, Rodolphe Janssen or Greta Meert, galleries from other Belgian cities have established themselves, such as the Antwerp ones Micheline Swajcer, Office Baroque or Kusseneers, as well as French ones such as Almine Rech, Nathalie Obadia, Daniel Templon, Michel Rein, Valérie Bach, JeanRoch Dard or Valentin, or even internationals, for example Gladstone, Mot International, Clearing ...
Avant-garde art centers and museums
Public or private, specialized centers can also be visited in Brussels. Many of them are located in disused industrial buildings.
Among essential addresses show the exhibition spaces Wiels, the power plant, Argos (audiovisual and plastic arts), CAB (Contemporary Art Center), the Private house or the Villa Empain - Boghossian Foundation which, in a superb Art Deco building, promotes dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures ... On the museum side, the Vanhaerents Art Collection is a private institution which, as its name suggests, presents a family collection (Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari, Jeff Koons, Christian Boltanski, Cindy Sherman…).
A large museum dedicated to contemporary art is in the works. It is an understatement to say that it is expected. Established in a large Citroën garage, in Art Deco style (place de l'Yser), it could present the collections currently kept in the reserves of Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium - which include a Magritte museum. To be continued… In the meantime, these Royal Museums present a few works and organize exhibitions, as well as Bozar and other non-specialized museum structures.
Adam, Patinoire Royale and MIMA: 3 new places in Brussels
A sign that Brussels is resolutely fan of contemporary art, three important places have been created in 2015 and 2016.
Erected on the occasion of the 1958 Brussels Universal Exhibition, the building of the atomium is a monumental work of art that depicts an elemental crystal of iron magnified 165 billion times. At the foot of this 102m-high Brussels 'Eiffel Tower' is the Art & Design Atomium Museum (Adam). The expression plastic arts takes on its literal meaning. It houses the astonishing Plasticarium collection, which brings together objects and furniture as well as artistic creations (Vasarely, César, Arman, Klasen…).
Built in 1877, then transformed into a garage and weapons depot, the Royal ice rink has become a large space for temporary exhibitions in the fields of plastic arts and design.
Opened in March 2016, Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) is seen, at the edge of the canal. This museum of current art and culture 2.0 mixes different approaches from the urban art or street art movements. While it includes a permanent collection, artists regularly have carte blanche to express themselves freely, including by fully painting one of its rooms, for example. What we see there is bold, relevant and not lacking in humor.
Street art and comics
Like all major cities in the world, Brussels sees its streets decorated by artists. Commissioned fruits or wild creations, the works can be discovered at random on walks or along a route that one prepares by consulting Internet sites which list them permanently, or through guided tours.
Certain signatures are very familiar to connoisseurs of Brussels: Bonom, Kool Koor, Farm Prod or Flagel, while the authors of the abundant Crayons remain anonymous.
Guided tours are also available for the frescoes on the tea. To find out more, read our article Comic strip walks in Brussels.
Sometimes concentrated in sectors of the city, sometimes isolated, the places devoted to contemporary art in Brussels are best visited if you take the trouble to organize yourself well, knowing that obviously, only one week -end is not enough to see everything.
Consult our Brussels online guide
Also read our weekend idea in Brussels
Brussels Tourism: pages are dedicated to contemporary art and street art
NECA Brussels, gallery and art center opening calendar
Brussels Council of Museums (CBM)
Art Brussels Fair (April)
Design September (September): September 9 to 30 in 2016
Brussels Gallery Weekend (September): September 8 to 11 in 2016
Street Art in Brussels
Street Art Belgium
Comic strip walks in Brussels