Independent Collectors

Vanhaerents Art Collection

Where the connection between building and collecting is more than metaphorical

LA NUOVA DOLCE VITA (FROM THE BIRTH OF VENUS LUDOVISI TO EVA MENDES) DIPTYCH, 2009, NEON LIT LIGHTBOXES, 2 X 141,50 X 234,50 X 15 cm
LA NUOVA DOLCE VITA (FROM THE BIRTH OF VENUS LUDOVISI TO EVA MENDES) DIPTYCH, 2009, NEON LIT LIGHTBOXES, 2 X 141,50 X 234,50 X 15 cm

Walter Vanhaerents, the collection’s founder, first became interested in contemporary art in the 1970s when his passion for film lead him to works by Andy Warhol including Sleep (1963) and Lonesome Cowboys(1968). The Warhol films represented an awakening of sorts for Vanhaerents, a successful building contractor, and, since his first encounter with Warhol’s meandering, epic explorations of the possibility of film, he has emphasized a philosophy of collecting that insists on looking towards the future. Visiting the collection, situated among the narrow streets and curving lanes of the center of the Belgian capital, one gets a palpable sense not only of who Vanhaerents is as a collector, but also of the sense of the alchemy created by the interaction art and space that inspires him.

The building in which the collection is housed has an impressive, even imposing solidity. The industrial lineage of the space is apparent inside and out; from the weathered bricks and stone of the exterior, to the expansive floors and sturdy concrete, the site speaks both of its own biography, but also that of Vanhaerents himself. The architect Paul Robbrecht has spoken of using the space as a stage for what he referred to as “a game of old a new walls, a subtle variation of large and flexible spaces.” One feels both the expansiveness Robbrecht identified as one of the building’s most powerfully defining characteristics, but also the strange lightness that the dialogue of walls, pillars and ironwork produces, particularly in some of the smaller rooms created by Robbrecht’s design.

The collection itself bears the traces of Warhol’s influence, and Vanhaerents’ passion for video art, including pieces by Bill Viola and iconic works by the performance artist and sound-art pioneer, Bruce Nauman, among the works from the permanent collection. Perhaps for me the most arresting works were those that engaged most directly with the space itself. For example, the hypnotic James Lee Byars that sits with perfect, almost organic snugness between a set of concrete pillars exerting a ramshackle imperiousness. The eerie light effects created by a pair of Ivan Navarro works were both unsettling and comforting at once, like watching a rainbow being teased apart in a space that suddenly felt as intimate as someone’s bedroom. The Vanhaerents is also known for the spectacular exhibitions that accompany its permanent collection, currently a mind-bending set of works by the Argentinian artist and thinker, Tomas Saraceno. Saraceno’s delicately durable works envision a future of urban spaces that are whole and dynamic but which are only loosely tethered to the earth. “Cloud Cities”, Saraceno styles them, they are the kind of cities one can easily imagine Vanhaerents dreaming of: epic in scale, vivid yet familiar and, perhaps most importantly as concerned with being of the future as well as in the future.

William Kherbek is the writer of the novel Ecology of Secrets (2013, Arcadia Missa) and the forthcoming UltraLife (2016, Arcadia Missa). His art journalism has appeared in a number of publications in the UK, US, Germany, Switzerland and Romania.

Vanhaerents Art Collection is featured in the BMW ART GUIDE by INDEPENDENT COLLECTORS.

For more information visit Vanhaerents Art Collection.

Sterling Ruby, Bad Moon Rising, 2011; Franz Ackermann, Haus im Sumpf, 2007
Sterling Ruby, Bad Moon Rising, 2011; Franz Ackermann, Haus im Sumpf, 2007
(l–r) Rashid Johnson, ‘What Comes Funky’, 2012; James Lee Byars, ’The Death of James Lee Byars’, 1994
(l–r) Rashid Johnson, ‘What Comes Funky’, 2012; James Lee Byars, ’The Death of James Lee Byars’, 1994
James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars, 1994 © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars. Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars, 1994 © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars. Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars, 1994 © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars. Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars, 1994 © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars. Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Walter Vanhaerents, 2019 image by Formentini Zanatta
Walter Vanhaerents, 2019 image by Formentini Zanatta
Tomas Saraceno, ’Many Suns And Worlds’. Installation view
Tomas Saraceno, ’Many Suns And Worlds’. Installation view
Bill Viola, Transfiguration, 2007
Bill Viola, Transfiguration, 2007
Delucia Michael, Silver Screen, 2012; Projection (Green), 2012
Delucia Michael, Silver Screen, 2012; Projection (Green), 2012
Overview of the second floor
Overview of the second floor
YI SUBUPPY, 2004, FRP, ACRYLIC, 166 X 193 X 246 cm
YI SUBUPPY, 2004, FRP, ACRYLIC, 166 X 193 X 246 cm
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels
Courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels

All images courtesy Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels.

Belgium (27)

Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

The industrialist couple Jules and Irma Dhondt-Dhaenens began collecting art in the 1920s

Galila Barzilaï

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AMEXICA @The Loft

The Family Servais Collection and The Loft present AMEXICA, an exhibition curated by Marisol Rodríguez

Schöne Sentimenten at the MDD

The Belgian Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, situated in the countryside at Deurle, presents an exhibition combining real artworks together with 'absent' ones.

Sun Women

"Sun Women" presents seven artists brought together from external private collections in Riva's exhibition space.

Servais Family Collection – Dérapages & Post-Bruises Imaginaries

The current hang of works from the Servais Family Collection, curated by Dragos Olea, offers a juxtaposition of concern versus hope

The Apartment

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Christophe Veys

An interview with the collector who owns the “invisible collection”.

Animals

An exhibition detailing the representation of the animal in contemporary art.

Remembering Mwene Mutapa – Exotic Mapping of a Collection

The Brussels-based contemporary art collection marked by a non-Western focus.

Polish Village

For the first time, the collection presents an exhibition entirely dedicated to the American artist Frank Stella.

Collection in Motion

“Our exhibition space does not aim to be an oasis."

Forever Young

The 2016 annual presentation organized by collector Alain Servais in his 900-square-meter loft in Brussels.

A from Animism, Atlas, Adrift[1]

A from Animism, Atlas, Adrift, Algorithmic, Apocryphal, Automatic, Ambiguous, Amnesia, Allegory, Above, Archive, Alien…

Transylvanian Visions

A fervent promoter and collector of Contemporary Romanian Art, with a special focus on the artistic phenomenon of the Cluj School.

Human Figure

Creating a dialogue between contemporary sculptures and works from Oceanic Art

The Power and The Glory

Opening on the eve of the now infamous 2016 US elections, “The Power and The Glory” set out to examine the tension between an artist’s desire to shine and their desire to exist.

Not Really Really

Removed from the material world and undergoing various transformations.

Walter Vanhaerents

A Story About An Island

Machinations at Verbeke

The Verbeke concept presents a private collection and lively program with an experimental spirit and devotion to nature.

Bewogen Beweging

Exhibition at the Verbeke Foundation.

Many Suns & Worlds

The Brussels based Vanhaerents Art Collection is hosting the first solo exhibition of Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno.

From East to West

Located in an old grain factory on the banks of the Campine Canal in Herentals, the Art Center Hugo Voeten represents over 1 700 works that have been collected over a thirty year period.

Break Out!

In 1966, Alighiero Boetti created a trio of sculptures titled “Zig Zag”, consisting of the fabric of a beach chair woven in inside an aluminium cube.

Warhol & Subsequent Effects

Located in a charmingly remodelled former industrial building in the Dansaert district in the heart of Brussels, the Walter Vanhaerents contemporary art collection is presented in biannual exhibitions on three floors.