BePAPER Belgian Art on Paper in a European Perspective. 1918-1950

2020 > 2024

Promotor(s) : Dr. Inga Rossi-Schrimpf (RMFAB) ; Co-Promotor(s): Karine Lasaracina (RMFAB) ; Prof. Dr. Sascha Bru (KUL) ; Prof. Dr. Michel Draguet (ULB/RMFAB) ; Prof. Dr. Frederik Truyen (KUL)

Researcher(s) : Lies Van de Cappelle (RMFAB), Laura Kollwelter (RMFAB), Sarah Eycken (RMFAB /KUL), Ana Schultze (RMFAB)

The BePAPER-project will provide a first overview of the field of Belgian avant-garde works on paper within an international context between 1918 and 1950, that is, up and until the dawn of CoBrA and the rise of the so-called neo-avant-gardes. The project will contribute to a better definition of the collection category of “modern works on paper”.


This project studies and discloses Belgian avant-garde “work on paper” (under which we understand autographic, unique artworks using paper as basic material, such as drawings, watercolors, collages, and paper assemblages) between 1918-1950. The project builds on the collection of “work on paper modern art” of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. For the period from ca. 1918 to 1950 the collection houses about 2400 individual sheets and sketchbooks, half of which were created by Belgian avant-garde artists. These artists include the Futurist Jules Schmalzigaug, the Expressionists Frits van den Berghe, Joseph Cantré, Gustave De Smet and Constant Permeke, the Constructivists Jozef Peeters, Karel Maes, Felix De Boeck, Victor Servranckx, Edmond van Dooren and Pierre-Louis Flouquet, the Surrealists Paul Delvaux, René Magritte and E.L.T. Mesens as well as the Dadaist Paul Joostens. In addition to this collection of art works, the study will be foremost based on the holdings in the Archives of Contemporary Art in Belgium (ACAB), Archives of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (ARMFAB) and the museum library.

The project main objectives are, first, to study why and how this wide variety of Belgian classic avant-garde artists turned to paper during the interwar period and to isolate possibly late appropriation tendencies within the Belgian avant-gardes as well as the emergence of trends already pointing ahead to the neo-avant-gardes. Second, we aim to better disclose the RMFAB collection of works on paper through the findings gained within the study and through the development of open data solutions. As result several outreach events such as conferences, publications or exhibitions addressing a scientific and student audience as well as a wider audience are planned.

As part of this project, an international symposium is taking place in March 2022. Find the call for paper here.

More information about the project & registration for the symposium:

The BePAPER project is a BRAIN project, supported by BELSPO.