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Cabinet d’Amis:
The Accidental Collection of Jan Hoet


Tour & Taxis, Hôtel de la Poste

21.04. — 24.04.16

Participating artists: Richard Artschwager, Nicos Baikas, Stephan Balkenhol, Lore Bert, Joseph Beuys, Guillaume Bijl, Max Bill, Bram Bogart, Christian Boltanski, Michaël Borremans, Dirk Braeckman, Herbert Brandl, Ricardo Brey, Marcel Broodthaers, Stanley Brouwn, Michael Buthe, James Lee Byars, Lawrence Carroll, Jacques Charlier, Amédée Cortier, Honoré ∂’O, Thierry De Cordier, Raoul De Keyser, Jessica Diamond, Helmut Dorner, Marlene Dumas, Jimmie Durham, Jan Fabre, Luciano Fabro, Barry Flanagan, Gunther Förg, Jef Geys, Rodney Graham, David Hammons, Rony Heirman, René Heyvaert, Andreas Hofer, Kazuo Katase, Joseph Kosuth, Eugène Leroy, Marcel Maeyer, Kris Martin, Cildo Meireles, Ulrich Meister, Bjarne Melgaard, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Meuser, Juan Muñoz, Maryam Najd, Cady Noland, Oswald Oberhuber, Luigi Ontani, Meret Oppenheim, Panamarenko, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Richard Prince, Royden Rabinowitch, Roger Raveel, Charles Ray, Jean Pierre Raynaud, Mandla Reuter, Matthieu Ronsse, Michael Ross, Remo Salvadori, Thomas Schütte, Johan Tahon, Niele Toroni, Susanne Tunn, Luc Tuymans, Juan Uslé, Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Philippe Vandenberg, Jan Van Imschoot, Philippe Van Snick, Jan Vercruysse, Henk Visch, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, James Welling, Robert Wilson

Cabinet d’Amis: The Accidental Collection of Jan Hoet was an exhibition showcasing selected works from the collection of the late Jan Hoet, especially commissioned by Art Brussels. Hoet (1936-2014) was an internationally acclaimed Belgian curator who first became known for his ground-breaking exhibition Chambres d’Amis in 1986, for which artists were invited to create works for 50 private homes in Ghent, which were then opened to the public for several weeks. Jan Hoet subsequently curated Documenta IX in Kassel and many other important international exhibitions, including Over The Edges (2000).

Hoet was also the founder of S.M.A.K., the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent. In his native Belgium, Jan Hoet was one of the few people in the contemporary art world to become a household name. His dedication and passion for art was unequivocal, and his quixotic, opinionated, defiant and larger-than-life character contributed to his legendary, sometimes controversial reputation. It is no exaggeration to say that as a curator he was one of a kind: someone who follows his heart and his instincts wears his opinions on his sleeve, and displays the same dedication to art and artists whether curating a major museum exhibition or just a modest show in a small Flemish village.

Jan Hoet’s personal collection is highly idiosyncratic. It was the result of relationships forged with artists throughout his career, not a strategically assembled accumulation of works of art. Many works were gifts from artists, resulting in a collection joined not by design or intent, but almost by accident. Indeed, one might use the word ‘collection’ with some hesitation. The word itself implies something with a certain structure, whereas these works came together in an organic way, with no deliberate intent to form ‘a collection’. The result is eclectic and whimsical, highlighting the non-conformist character of its owner.

There are over 500 works in Jan Hoet’s personal collection, most modest in scale. Cabinet d’ Amis featured works by established, internationally acclaimed and lesser-known artists from Belgium and further afield, and Jan Hoet worked closely with many of them. The selection of works not only paid tribute to Hoet but it also provided insight into his artistic vision and his relationships with artists, through the inclusion of documentation, photographs, letters, correspondence with artists, notes, postcards, artists’ sketches and drawings, collages, objects, faxes, videos and texts from his personal archives – all of which had never before been accessible to the public. These, in turn, gave unique insight into his curatorial trajectory. Highlights included a series of letters from James Lee Byars in the artist’s signature handwriting, and a number of sketchbooks by Panamarenko.

Cabinet d’ Amis also included a series of photographs by Dirk Pauwels, from the collection of S.M.A.K. Pauwels accompanied Hoet, recording the course of his various projects, ultimately building an archive of thousands of photographs documenting Jan Hoet’s career from 1982 onwards.

Cabinet d’ Amis offered visitors a unique opportunity to enter the private artistic universe of Jan Hoet, while also providing insight into the close personal affinity he shared with artists. Jan Hoet’s was a life lived with, in, for and through art.

The exhibition was realized with the kind co-operation of the family of Jan Hoet and S.M.A.K. The exhibition scenography was by the Brussels-based artist Richard Venlet. Venlet’s work combines sculpture, art history research, exhibition design and architecture. He turns spaces into environments. Working in context-specific situations, he has produced numerous installations that incorporate the work of other artists and collaborators, forming composite and circuitous environments that are often whimsical reconfigurations of architectural space. For Cabinet d’ Amis, Venlet conceived a circular space that functions both as a cabinet / gallery and as a panopticon through which to view the artworks. The viewer entered through a small passage and experienced the exhibition as a diorama, completely surrounded by the works.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Anglo Belge Special Risks insurance broker and Stibbe, the leading independent law firm.

Katerina Gregos' interview at The Word Magazine.

Installation views Cabinet d’Amis: The Accidental Collection of Jan Hoet, 2016

Exhibition architecture: Richard Venlet
All photos by Kristof Vrancken.

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