Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Exploring the Royal Collections in Brussels

I was recently in Brussels for a bit of business, making it my third trip in a calendar year or so, oddly enough. Since I had just been back in August, I didn't really look around that much. I didn't go to the Grand Place or to see what Mannekin Pis might be wearing, I didn't eat any French fries or waffles or buy any chocolate other than at the supermarket, but I did go to visit the Royal Museums.

I visited on my first trip back in 2007, and while a lot has changed with the museum (notably the development of separate museums-within-the-museum such as the Magritte Museum and the Fin-de-Siècle museum, which weren't open when I last went), there was definitely a sense of déjà vu. Or indeed, not so much déjà vu as déjà blogged. I walked around remembering many of the paintings I'd seen before, not from my original experience, but remembering having blogged about them and the little jokes I made in this post.

Blogfriend Canedolia recently blogged about how blogging has changed and whether or not anyone's still interested in the old-school "personal experiences" type blogs anyway. While my blogging output tends to vary wildly according to a self-assessment of how interesting my life is likely to be to other people (read: if I've travelled anywhere fun or sat around all weekend catching up on the BBC's Fake or Fortune and, less respectedly, The Undateables - which is brilliant - and Take Me Out - which is silly but fun), the basic goal is probably always the same. It's great to read other people's comments and think that they might, for some reason, enjoy reading my blog, but I think it's even better to know I'm creating a permanent (?) record for myself. So even if repeated trips to Brussels create a blurry palimpsest of impressions, I can always agree with Past Me that armpit fart Jesus never gets old:

I managed to get some better close-ups of the crazy world of Bosch this time. You could look at this for an hour and still find new stuff going on. No wonder they ended up with Surrealists hundreds of years later if they grew up seeing the likes of this:

Jesus after a hard night on the tiles

The saint in this is very pointedly not looking up Mary Magdalene's crotch

This guy, on the other hand... I do love this little detail though, of course you'd be pretty "woah!" if there were a giant floating saint and angels in the sky
So, everyone's pretty bummed about the temple collapsing...

Except this guy, who thinks it's FABULOUS, darling! (I actually lolled at my own joke there. That just shows where the bar is set when you principally aim to please yourself)
What's your favourite Brueghel?

Pretty Brueghel?

Disturbing slices of social history Brueghel?

Creepy Goblin Market Brueghel?

Or just the one with the nun's bum?
The Fin-de-Siècle museum hasn't been open for very long, I don't think. There's some nice stuff in there, but seriously, there's also some of the most god-awful tack I've ever seen inside a museum. Tell me some of this wouldn't be out of place spraypainted on a Harley Davidson or on a hair band's album cover:

Dear God, this is the worst thing I've ever seen. If you don't agree, however, you can buy a reproduction starting from $219 here

And it just keeps going...

I'm sorry to have done this to you all, but after looking at this, we have all been added to a list.

Oh great, add bestiality to the mix, that'll make it better
Terribly sorry about that, I'll leave you with my favourite painting in the museum, Magritte's Empire des Lumières:
This is from my last trip, as you're not allowed to take photos in the Magritte bit any more. The photo doesn't do it justice
And a nice snap of Brussels as a palate-cleanser to leave you with


  1. Love the Jesus after the night on the tiles! However, it could be that the lady has just removed that apple from his bottom.

    1. Ha, that'd certainly take it out of you.

  2. I actually laughed out loud at the 'armpit fart Jesus' and the rest of the post has made me want to visit this museum as soon as possible! M x

    1. p.s. I mean 'the rest of the post' minus those horrible torrents of children pictures.

    2. Pity you didn't get to it in August!

  3. Thanks for giving me nightmares with some of those images. The Magritte made up for it, but barely.

    1. It's a massive triptych as well! Really, really bad!

  4. Yes, I have to say, those paintings with all those children creeped me out too. What are they supposed to represent?

    I do like lifestyle blogs in small doses (well, I usually only ever read the posts on personal experiences), but there is something about them being 'too perfect' that bothers me sometimes. That's why I read your blog - you don't attempt to be something your not. I like blogs that are 'rough around the edges' like Zhu's blog.

    1. I did some googling to find out and found the following exhibition review from Time:

      "What makes it worth seeing is the number of quality paintings and sculptures by famous artists and those who are less well-known. Bad art has a fascination of its own. The German Franz von Stuck's Sin of 1899, which depicts a young woman wearing nothing but a large snake and an inviting smile, is enjoyably awful. But Belgian Leon Frederic's The Stream (1890-99) shows man's reach exceeding his grasp. Intended to portray the river of life, the vast canvas swarms with naked children."

      Good to know a professional critic also thinks it's hideous!

  5. I don't think I will ever tire of your irreverent take on the art world. Keep blogging!

  6. We definitely saw those brueghels in august! Have you forgotten the art museum we visited ma?


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