Interior of the Carolus Borromeus Church in Antwerp

Antwerp is the only city in the world to be so permeated in every respect by Peter Paul Rubens and his baroque legacy. “Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires” is an opportunity to experience Rubens and baroque in many intense and unique ways.

Statue of Rubens - ©JanPollers

Antwerp's cultural identity

Rubens’ house - today one of the city’s major museums - is a baroque classic, and there are still many stylish churches in the city from this era. Many of Antwerp’s great contemporary artists continue to be inspired by Rubens’ extravagant baroque tradition, creating an authentic and distinctive joie de vivre in the city. The word Baroque is derived from the Portuguese word ‘barocco’ meaning, ‘irregular pearl or stone’. This is perhaps the perfect metaphor for Antwerp as it evokes something mysterious, multifaceted and difficult to pin down, while remaining classic and contemporary at the same time.

An Antwerp state of mind

The tradition for new and eccentric architecture continues and baroquelike buildings are being added to Antwerp’s skyline all the time, including Richard Rogers’ Court House and Zaha Hadid’s Port House.

Rubens inspires

In 2018, the city of Antwerp will pay tribute to Peter Paul Rubens and his baroque, cultural legacy. Rubens is often identified with the Baroque and is an icon for Antwerp. Even today Rubens is an important source of inspiration for contemporary artists. The event "Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires" establishes a dialogue between Rubens’s historic Baroque with the work of contemporary masters, including Jan Fabre, Luc Tuymans and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. This will lead to many exciting exhibitions, performances and events, with several new artistic creations, some of which will be permanently installed in the city. The opening ceremony for the new Rubens Experience Center in 2020 marks the close of the Baroque festival.

As a warm-up, the Rubens House exhibits the 'Hidden Van Dyck' (Study for a Brussels Magistrate), 'David Bowie's Tintoretto' (The Holy Catherine) and 'Portrait of a Lady and Her Daughter' by the Venetian Master Titian . The latter was a great source of inspiration for the later work of Rubens.

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