Walden back then
His nom the plume was Herwarth Walden. And he was to become the main impressario of avant-garde art throughout Europe in the early twentieth century. In his Berlin gallery and Expressionist art magazine Der Sturm as well as in many other ventures, Walden promoted modernist artists and art movements that questioned contemporary society and its ossified cultural agenda.But on the eve of the First World War, Herwarth Walden was not the only one to be inspired by Thoreau’s book on a more conscious and balanced way of living. Dutch writer and psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden for example referred to it with the commune he designed as a blueprint for a New World.
The cabin of Frederik van Eeden in Walden, ca. 191o.
With his 1917 article On Dynamism Flemisch poet and art critic Paul van Ostaijen marked the local breakthrough of modern art movements. Hundred years later, in the same city on the river Scheldt where its foundations were laid, a new story on Belgian avant-garde art was created. Taking its most radical experiments as points of reference. Because they haven’t lost any of their power or tension. And because they prove to be surpriisingly up to date.Bringing together words and images, Walden offers a contemporary guide to the artistic diversity and historical impact of modern art movements in Belgium. We honour those artists who experimented with forms and concepts, thereby substantiating their search for a ‘New World’. Just as much we take into account those who sensed and anticipated modernist aesthetics, or assimilated their influences in later, rather different ages.