Frits van den Berghe


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Belgian painter, born in Ghent, where he studied (1897–1904) and later taught (1907–11) at the Academy. While teaching in Ghent he lived at nearby Laethem-Saint-Martin, where he was a member of a colony of artists including Permeke and de Smet. He also worked with de Smet in Holland when they fled there during the First World War. It was at this time that his work turned decisively from Impressionism to Expressionism, and he is regarded as one of Belgium's leading exponents of the style. He returned to Belgium in 1922 and settled permanently in Ghent in 1925. Initially his Expressionist work was vaguely derived from Cubism, with block-like forms and matt surfaces, but from the mid-1920s his paintings took on a more fantastic quality in the tradition of Ensor and Hieronymus Bosch. These works have been seen by some as an anticipation of Surrealism. His subjects included landscapes, portraits, nudes, and allegories of the human condition. His best-known work is probably Sunday (1924, Museum of Modern Art, Brussels), a satirical image showing three clergymen, taking their rest on the river bank, apparently as indifferent to the religious associations of the day as the boatmen and the wealthy family who pass behind them.

Subjects: Art.

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