TV works

Paul Vandenbroeck

Paul Vandenbroeck (b. 1953) studied Art Theory at the Catholic University of Louvain. Under the inspiring influence of Prof. Dr. J.K. Steppe, he began researching the work of Hieronymus Bosch, a study that would take many years and would be the subject of his doctoral dissertation. In 1987, EPO publishers published part of this controversial and pioneering research under the title, Hieronymus Bosch: Tussen volksleven en stadscultuur (Between the Life of the People and Urban Culture). In 2002, Ludion published an adaptation for a broader audience, entitled Hieronymus Bosch: De verlossing van de wereld (The Redemption of the World). Vandenbroeck’s work on Bosch has meanwhile gained a considerable following.

Vandenbroeck’s study of Bosch’s painting examined the interaction between mediaeval urban culture and the lives of the people, and specifically, the role of ‘marginalized’ individuals as negative examples in defining the self-image of the urban elite. He expanded that aspect in the exhibition, Over wilden en narren, boeren en bedelaars: Beeld van de andere, vertoog over het zelf (On Savages and Fools, Farmers and Beggars: Image of the Other, Exposé of the Self, 1987), held at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where Vandenbroeck was employed as a sciences researcher after obtaining his doctorate. The exhibition reflected his investigation of savages, exotics, fools, idiots, farmers and beggars in art between the 10th and the 18th centuries.

In addition to the concept of symbolic inversion, in which one’s own norms and values are defined through the representation of their inversion, leftovers from mimetic rituals played an important role in the iconographic material and the metaphor of the body. In this area, Vandenbroeck was also influenced by the work of Renaat Devisch, then at the Centre for Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Catholic University of Louvain. Later exhibitions focused on the ritual and the body, notably Hooglied. De Beeldwereld van Religieuze Vrouwen in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden vanaf de 13de eeuw (Canticles: the Visual World of Religious Women in the Southern Lowlands from the 13th Century) at the Palace of Fine Arts, Brussels, in 1994, Kleuren van de Geest. Dans en Trance in Afro-Europese tradities (Colours of the Soul: Dance and Trance in Afro-European Traditions), at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 1997, and especially Azetta. Berbervrouwen en hun kunst (Azetta: Berber women and their Art) at the Palace of Fine Arts, Brussels, in 2000. Anthropology and psychoanalysis played an increasing role in these projects. Paul Vandenbroeck teaches at the Catholic University of Louvain. [Karen De Coene]