Kunstmuseum aan zee Collecties van
de Vlaamse Gemeenschap
Stad Oostende


Frans Masereel and contemporary art: images of resistance

Frans Masereel and Contemporary Art: images of resistance reveals Masereel’s vision of the world, his social criticism and pacifism. Frans Masereel (1889-1972) can be considered the most important graphic artist and woodcutter of the twentieth century. Mu.ZEE looks back on his work, and brings Masereel’s ideas into dialogue with today’s society through the work of contemporary artists from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and America: Mary Evans, Anton Kannemeyer, Glenn Ligon, Dan Perjovschi, Billie Zangewa, William Kentridge, Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Slavs and Tatars, Kerry James Marshall, Papa Mfumu’eto 1er.

The exhibition highlights the artists’ social commitment and brings different kinds of pacifism and internationalism to the fore, which are often associated with varied motifs and open to multiple interpretations. At the beginning of the twentieth century, but also before, people were already thinking about the developments that we would now call contemporary, such as migration and globalisation.

From a constructive standpoint, the artists question injustice and inequality. With a critical eye, and sometimes with satire, they tackle the subjects that personally interest them and offer them up for discussion via images. As an illustrator for newspapers and magazines, and working with woodcuts, Masereel had the opportunity to pose critical questions to a wide audience in an accessible manner. Visual immediacy and storytelling are just two of the strategies that are explored in the wide range of exhibited works. The common denominator is a positive outlook on the future and, in this, Masereel’s portrayal of mankind was unfailingly optimistic.

Image : Frans Masereel, Ein Gehirn (from the series ‘Bilder der Grossstadt’), 1926.
© SABAM Belgium 2017 & Masereelstiftung Saarbrücken


Overview past exhibitions »