01.12.18 Antwerp's art sector throws its weight behind Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

01.12.18 Antwerp's art sector throws its weight behind Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

Also Antwerp's art sector is throwing its weight behind the cultural city festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’. During this festival the city will rediscover its Baroque roots. In addition to a core programme of exhibitions in museums and churches, ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ offers a varied programme full of music, theatre, literature, street art, photography, installation art, dance, performances, walks, developed by and in collaboration with many famous names in Antwerp's art sector.

The cultural city festival 'Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ pays homage to Peter Paul Rubens and his Baroque, cultural heritage. During the festival, the spotlight will be on Peter Paul Rubens, one of the most influential artists ever and the most famous inhabitant of Antwerp. He personifies the Baroque period and is an important source of inspiration for contemporary artists and the atypical lifestyle of the city and its inhabitants. 'Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires' tells a story about the Baroque, in the past and the present, and creates a dialogue between historic Baroque and the work of contemporary artists.

In addition to exhibitions in the Rubens House, the M HKA, Middelheim Museum, the Photo Museum, the MAS, the Museum Plantin-Moretus, the Snijders&Rockox House and in the Monumental Churches in Antwerp, the City of Antwerp has collaborated with many cultural partners and developed a programme of activities that creates a dialogue between historic Baroque and Antwerp's contemporary art sector. Baroque is interpreted in a broad sense, rather than solely as an art-historical term, baroque culture in all its forms, “timeless” baroque. The final result brings the audience back to the imaginative world of Rubens, an inspiring genius of innovation and creativity. With this extensive programme the City of Antwerp wants to bring the Baroque festival closer to Antwerp's residents. 

Art organisations were allowed to ask for a financial contribution for artistic projects that give a contemporary interpretation to Baroque in the broadest sense of the word. The response was massive. Thanks to this enthusiasm, the programme for ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ was expanded with more than 30 projects and about 100 shows for a diverse audience. From street art to opera, from music and theatre projects to art integrations, from workshops for children to advanced lectures.

The cultural city festival 'Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires' will showcase Antwerp in a surprising manner. Chic yet unpolished, historic and contemporary, art and the good life. The artistic programme is explicitly extroverted and combines Rubens’ cultural heritage with artistic originality.

Alderman for Culture Caroline Bastiaens: “Baroque isn't only about art, it's also about the art of living. It's not only present in our buildings and churches, in paintings by Rubens, it's also in the DNA of Antwerp's residents. They are hospitable and generous, exuberant and enterprising, and far from modest. We will highlight that aspect during Baroque in the city with a series of events that will bring the Baroque closer to Antwerp's residents.”

Visual arts

Jan Fabre in St Augustine Church

As part of 'Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires' Jan Fabre will create three new works of art that will be integrated in the former St Augustine Church/Music Centre AMUZ.

Fabre was recruited for this prestigious assignment because he is a pre-eminent Antwerp artist with world fame having lots of experience with similar art integration projects: for example the permanent ceiling sculpture ‘Heaven of Delight’ (2002) in the Hall of Mirrors in the Royal Palace of Brussels. When creating new work, Jan Fabre regularly enters into dialogue with the visual language of the Flemish Masters from the northern Renaissance and the Baroque period. Jan Fabre is undoubtedly the ultimate total artist in Antwerp. Just like his Baroque predecessors he is active in different artistic disciplines. His form language refers to the exuberant and ecstatic - characteristic themes for the Baroque period.

The new works of art will replace the altarpieces that Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens painted in 1628 for the St Augustine Church. Those original works became part of the collection of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) in 1974.

Yvon Tordoir – Baroque Murals

Yvon Tordoir, a young graffiti artist from Antwerp, has invited three other artists to make large murals in the middle of the city. Each artist has a style that Tordoir can link to a theme, master or technique from the Baroque era. Each artist will further explore that link over the coming year in their own way and will surprise the city with four giant murals in which Baroque and street art meet. As part of this art integration, Permeke Library will give youths the opportunity to paint several walls in the 2060 district in a Baroque style.

Athos Burez – Baroque Burez

Photographer-artist Athos Burez will present a photo series about Baroque in the MAS. With 30 images and installations displayed on the Boulevard, Athos will provide an idiosyncratic and contemporary look at different genres from the style period: still lifes, portraits, landscapes and interiors. It will be the first time that works by Burez can be admired in a solo exhibition in Antwerp.

Baroque Next Generation

Cultural centres, cultural meeting places and libraries spread over different districts will work on diverse projects with the Baroque visual heritage of Peter Paul Rubens. Several contemporary artists, many of them from Antwerp, will investigate together with local residents what the term Baroque and its artistic movement means to them today.

The project ‘Samenweven’ in Merksem brings together artist Klaas Rommelaere, local residents and the Babylon creative atelier (mainly women from Berber regions) and allows them to be part of a bigger picture. The group will work on a monumental tapestry inspired by the Baroque and their own culture.

Every two years 252 cc in Ekeren invites an artist or artists’ collective to set up a project in the castle under the title ‘Hofleverancier’. In addition to working sessions and presentation sessions, they always work towards a summer exhibition. In 2018 they will immerse themselves in Baroque art and/or Rubens as a travelling court painter.

CC De Kern and its partners from Wilrijk allow youths to become acquainted with the Baroque artistic movement via the surprising art education project entitled ‘Barucca’. Typical stylistic elements from the Baroque will be introduced and will be the source of lots of inspiration and creativity.

During the Baroque period courts and churches ordered works of art, and citizens became active clients for the first time. In the project ‘EXPO 2018’, which started in early 2017 in Antwerp district, residents invite contemporary artists to make a new work of art for their district. Five Antwerp neighbourhoods in the 2018 post code received a unique work of art from Nick Hullegie, Bram Van Meervelde, Gerard Herman and Mark Pozlep.

Naughty Kids – Punk as Baroque

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts approaches the historic phenomena of Iconoclasm and Baroque from a contemporary and against-the-grain perspective via the project ‘Naughty Kids’. The starting point is that the Punk movement of the late 1970s can be interpreted as a late 20th-century Iconoclasm, while the post-modern figuration of that period is closely related to aspects of the Baroque. The result is an exciting and confrontational exhibition in the beautiful Lange Zaal of the KASK, where music, fashion, graphic design and visual art will engage in dialogue and debate. Discussions, performances and music performances take place in this context. In addition, a site-specific work will be displayed in the Baroque St Paul’s Church.



B.O.X, Efterklang and Kórus

For Antwerp's B.O.X, which makes new music with Baroque sounds, the Baroque year is the perfect opportunity to do what they've been doing with verve for years but on a larger scale and in their own city: break down musical barriers. For 'Antwerp Baroque 2018' B.O.X will engage in a new collaboration with Efterklang from Denmark and Korus from Iceland. They will make a full new set with new songs and Baroque soundscapes.

graindelavoix - Outlandish

According to graindelavoix and Björn Schmelzer, the Baroque period started in Antwerp much earlier than thought, namely with the publication of the book ‘Utopia’ by Thomas More in 1516. Utopia largely takes place in Antwerp. Baroque and utopia go hand in hand: they are about showing an impossible world, integration into the reality of what doesn't exist yet. In that sense Antwerp has always been Baroque, from the Gothic cathedral to Georges Eekhoud's utopian novels about Antwerp libertines. Or is reality quite different? Graindelavoix gives More's Utopia an alternative scenario in this bizarre cinema-concert, largely filmed in Antwerp and on the Atlantic Ocean … Antwerp première in the St Charles Borromeo Church!

AMUZ – 1618 | Before & Beyond

AMUZ will focus on Baroque music in 2018 as part of ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’. The focal point for the musical activities is 1618, the year in which the St Augustine Church was opened in the Kammenstraat. In the music of that time, diverse styles existed simultaneously: the old polyphony and the new Baroque monody. The summer music festival ‘Laus Polyphoniae’ presents music from before 1618: from celestial Gregorian chants to sumptuous polyphony. The new music styles and genres of the Baroque will be amply covered in the autumn: worldly opera, religious cantatas, instrumental music, etc. Attention-grabbers include La Pellegrina by Scherzi Musicali conducted by Nicolas Achten; Monteverdi's L’Orfeo by I Fagiolini, Dumesny, le haute-contre de Lully by Reinoud Van Mechelen and A nocte temporis; Handel's Messiah by the Academy of Ancient Music and Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium by Il Gardellino conducted by Peter Van Heyghen.

Plutomobiel Barokt

‘Plutomobiel Barokt’ is a low threshold, interactive project in which the Plutomobiel, accompanied by three Baroque musicians, drives past squares in Antwerp during the summer months to acquaint kids with Baroque music in a playful manner.

Game of Tones

The non-profit organisation 5 voor 12 offers a multi-day music festival called Game of Tones. It includes sound games in the St Willibrordus Church in the Kerkstraat. Under Rubens’ painting ‘St Willibrordus in adoration of the Holy Family’ visitors can enjoy a dynamic game of subdued sounds in a unique environment.


Johan Petit (MartHa!tentatief) and Pieter Theuns (Baroque Orchestration X) present a theatrical Baroque concert about love and fear in uncertain times in Starfish.

Baroque Meets Urban

The non-profit organisation Taktic has developed a sound installation together with Baroque Meets Urban where the Flemish Masters meet Urban Culture.

Antwerp Symphony Orchestra

Antwerp Symphony Orchestra offers a Christmas concert in the St Charles Borromeo Church.

Lucifer by De Bronstige Bazooka’s

De Bronstige Bazooka’s (Michaël Brijs, Andy Fierens en Thomas De Prins) will perform an oratorio of Joost van den Vondel's Lucifer, the tragedy that premièred in Amsterdam in 1654, sung by a modern choir in collaboration with a few music academies from Antwerp and with newcomers. The flight of the rebellious archangel who is banished from heaven is brought up to date with references to displaced persons all over the world who are looking for a new home.

New creation HERMESensemble

HERMESensemble will perform a new creation during ARTICULATE, a three-day festival about research and art that will focus on the Baroque in 2018.

Illustri Colleghi Da San Marco

During Illustri Colleghi Da San Marco, soprano Sophie Thoen, tenor Vincent Lesage and the musicians from Oltremontano will transport the audience back to the music and sounds of Venice – the birthplace of Baroque music in the 16th century.

Johannes Passion

deCHORALE, the largest oratorio choir in Flanders, will sing Bach’s Johannes Passion in the St Charles Borromeo Church. The centenarian choir will surprise with a new interpretation of this iconic composition. Bach, Borromeus, Baroque!

Baroque organ

The new Baroque organ in the St Norbert Church on the Dageraadplaats in Antwerp will be broken in during the Baroque festival.


The non-profit organisation Belgian Early Music Community offers a two-day culture market related to old music and historic performance practices with concerts, workshops and master classes inspired by music related to Rubens’ era and society.

Iedereen Zingt!

The non-profit organisation Zuidgeluid performs Iedereen Zingt! as a prelude to the Baroque festival. Iedereen Zingt! is a musical path for children from six different Antwerp districts with Baroque music as its leitmotiv.

RedHerring Baroque Ensemble

RedHerring Baroque Ensemble will perform a series of Baroque concerts in Antwerp's Beguinage. Music that Rubens would have known and heard, in the immediate proximity of paintings by Jacob Jordaens and the School of Rubens.

Basso continuo and modern jazz

Natashia Kelly and Brice Soniano merge basso continuo and ostinato with modern jazz in ‘Look, Rubens listens’.

Baroque in Motion

‘Baroque in Motion’ is a series of concerts by the non-profit organisation Sound In Motion. It takes place in the Vleeshuis and it allows the audience to see and hear how Baroque music continues to live in modern music in different guises. Not only in the obvious context of classical music, but also in the world of free improvisation, modern composition, world music and the avant-garde.


Museum Vleeshuis | Sound of the City will be a guest in the Snijders&Rockox House, where it will furnish a music room, for at least four years from February 2018. During the Baroque festival, that music room will focus on the 17th century and the Baroque period. A special, musical Antwerp family will be highlighted: the Duarte family.

Music in Permeke

Permeke will present a series of concerts in 2018 in which short classical pieces from the Baroque period will be played. Permeke will also offer several revised jazz pieces closely linked to the Baroque musical tradition. The collectives will try their hand at slam poetry and hip-hop in Baroque style in the Urbanbib.


Theatre & Music theatre

Earth Diver – Music Theatre Transparant

‘Earth Diver’ is an initiative by director Wouter Van Looy. A multimedia portrait with breathtaking power over a society in crisis, which looks its demise in the eyes and desperately looks for answers. Van Looy allows the power and individuality of different media to rub together in an installation‐like setting. A choir sings work by Heinrich Schütz (1585‐1672), video artist Wim Catrysse provides images of life underground in the mines of Barentsburg, writer Paul Verrept weaves a text between Schütz and Barentsburg. With music by Nikolaus Brass and vocal improvisations by Phil Minton.

Het land Nod – Toneelhuis/FC Bergman

Toneelhuis/FC Bergman was inspired by the majestic Rubens Hall in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp when creating ‘Het land Nod’. The Rubens Hall is the museum's pièce de resistance. It has 15 of the most impressive paintings that Peter Paul Rubens ever painted. In confrontation with these works of art, museum visitors enter a kind of vacuum, a place where time seems to stand still. Toneelhuis/FC Bergman decided to make a tacit show about the history of the Rubens Hall, Rubens’ works, and the people who seek consolation and shelter in the museum. For this show on location, Toneelhuis/FC Bergman built a full-scale model of the Rubens Hall. The choice for such a monumental setting fits Toneelhuis/FC Bergman's own theatre language perfectly. That language is anarchistic and slightly chaotic, extremely visual and poetic.

Stadsparadijzen – kunstZ

The audience helps create the show ‘Stadsparadijzen’ by kunstZ together with a group of actors with diverse ethnic backgrounds. The starting point is the animal kingdom, a metaphor for the Urban Jungle, and how it has changed over the centuries. Drawing inspiration from the animals in Rubens’ work ‘The Earthly Paradise with the Fall of Adam and Eve’, the fables of Rubens’ contemporary Jean De La Fontaine, and the photo series ‘I love the world’ by Marie-Jo Lafontaine, a new biotope is created. With subtle reference the animal world, it invites the audience to express their amazement at encounters in the city between all sorts and conditions of people via animals.

The Parade 2 – Thomas Verstraeten

In ‘De parade van mannen, vrouwen en diegenen die vanuit de verte op vliegen lijken’ (‘The parade of men, women and those who look like flies from a distance’) Thomas Verstraeten hosted a huge parade in which he represented the city in a human sculpture of 1000 Antwerp residents. By doing this he placed himself in the rich Antwerp tradition of processions and giant parades, whereby the residents of Antwerp show themselves and their world view to the world. ‘The Parade 2’ is a monumental video installation that registers this parade, but it is completely deconstructed and then reassembled. It closely monitors the interaction between participants and observers, between viewers and those being watched.

Atelier – tg STAN, De Koe and Maatschappij Discordia

‘Atelier’ was created by tg STAN, De Koe and Maatschappij Discordia. In a turbulent, visual trip through art history, three actors investigate the meaning of the artist's atelier.

Just like Baroque paintings, the actors use dramatic effects, chiaroscuro and a whirlwind of emotions and movement. The audience is lured on an unforgettable aesthetic expedition without words.

WONDERKAMER/KUNSTKABINETTEN (working title) – Theatre De Spiegel

Theatre De Spiegel has created a Baroque installation/show for children aged 0 to 3 entitled WONDERKAMER/KUNSTKABINETTEN (Chamber of Wonders/Art Cabinet). Children can observe, play and experiment with the elements on hand. And musicians and visual artists enter into interaction – each from their own artistic language – with objects, music and with what the children give them.

Tropoi – Theatre Froe Froe

Theatre Froe Froe reintroduces ‘Tropoi’, a mix of actors, puppets, songs, classical and contemporary music with references to late medieval and Baroque music on location in Antwerp. Fire baskets, an open-air atmosphere and extensive musical support ensure an extra Baroque touch.

Le Grand Ballet – Zonzo Compagnie

Zonzo Compagnie performs Le Grand Ballet based on music by Marin Marais (1656-1728), a French Baroque composer. In imitation of its successful, interactive, musical shows for children, Zonzo Compagnie has created a new show in which the Baroque masterpiece is the starting point for a modern show in which music and movement go hand in hand. In the private chambers of the Sun King, the king and his court listen quietly to a new piece for viola da gamba and continuo by court composer Marin Marais. The king listens quietly initially, but to the surprise of his loyal audience, he slowly starts to move. The court has no other choice than to follow and imitate the king carefully. A strange choreography to the music is gradually established. The king and his noblemen eventually get so absorbed that the music no longer seems suitable. The musicians decide to follow the choreography and to turn it into sound.



Gigue! – Fameus

Fameus and a large group of dancers of all ages and dance styles tackle the ‘Baroque’ theme with ‘Gigue!’. Professional choreographers and lots of dancers search for a contemporary interpretation via different dance styles. After registration via an open call, the dancers will struggle through two intensive boot camps under professional guidance.




The Rubenianum is unique in the world. It gives Antwerp excellent brain power in the area of Baroque art. This research institute for Flemish art of the 16th and 17th century, located in the Baroque Kolveniershof behind the Rubens garden, is a well-kept secret. It offers an excellent art library and art archives for interested people and researchers from Belgium and abroad.

The Rubenianum adds depth and reflection to the programme of exhibitions and events with public lectures and conferences. Dates and themes of these lectures and workshops will be announced at the beginning of 2018.



Baroque Is Not Dead! – Vonk en zonen

‘Baroque Is Not Dead!’ by Vonk en zonen challenges contemporary artists to look at today through Baroque glasses. Baroque themes and styles are remixed:  saraband and urban dance, beats to harpsichord, poems by Vondel coming out of contemporary mouths. ‘Baroque Is Not Dead!’ transports the audience to the heydays of the Baroque era while saying a lot about today. The urge for something bigger, something higher, continued longing and hope. With Fatena Al Ghorra, Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, Delphine Lecompte, Dimitri Verhulst, Jeroen Olyslaeghers, Pjeroo Roobjee (literature); Gavin Friday, Dez Mona, Mauro Pawlowski, Psallentes (music); Rubens Vrouwen, Baroque Polyphonic Dance, Urban Baroque Dance (dance)

Leave Us At Dawn

Leave Us At Dawn is a unique cultural festival concept that brings art and culture to the general public in an extraordinary way. A fabulous Baroque ball is created with dressed up guests, theatrical performances, cutting-edge concerts and a high-spirited dance party.

Festival Royal

Permeke presents an exuberant artistic party in the library and on the De Coninckplein from 30/08 to 02/09. A party with images, words and music, scents and colour, flavours and entertainment. In collaboration with Tony Le Duc, Behoud de Begeerte, the Middelheim Museum and Food for Foodies.

Baroque Festival Card

The Baroque Festival Card is the best way to discover the offerings of ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018’. The card is valid for 48 hours (starting from the moment you first use it). It offers free entry to all exhibitions and Monumental Churches that are participating in the cultural city festival 'Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires'. It also gives you a 10% discount off a selection of shows. You'll also receive a handy guide and a city map with useful information about all the participating locations. The card does not include free public transportation. The Baroque Festival Card costs €25 and is for sale from mid-December via www.antwerpenbarok2018.be.


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Contact us
Nadia De Vree Press coordinator Museums of Antwerp
Nadia De Vree Press coordinator Museums of Antwerp
About Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

The cultural city festival “Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires” pays tribute to Peter Paul Rubens and his baroque, cultural legacy. Rubens was one of the most influential artists ever and is still widely regarded as Antwerp’s most famous inhabitant. He is the personification of the Baroque and continues to be an important source of inspiration, for contemporary artists and for the atypical lifestyle of the city of Antwerp and its population. “Antwerp Baroque 2018” tells the story of the Baroque, then and now, establishing a dialogue between the historic Baroque and contemporary artist, using the city and the world as a backdrop. “Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires” is a key event in the Flemish Masters programme, which is organised by VISITFLANDERS. Combining artistic individuality with genuine hospitality, the festival promises to be uniquely extraverted. From June 2018 until January 2019 in Antwerp.