The First World War erupted exactly one hundred years ago. It was to claim the lives of many thousands of Belgian soldiers and civilians. The war was utterly devastating: art and culture also fell victim to its ravages. In Leuven, the University Library was burned along with numerous valuable books. Ravaged starts from the burning of Leuven in 1914, and then situates the event in a broader context. Throughout the centuries, there have been countless examples of conflicts that targeted cultural heritage. From the 16th Century Iconoclasm to the destruction of the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, from the burning of Constantinople to the destruction of Beirut: crimes against art and culture are of all ages.
The exhibition demonstrates how artists depicted these destructions. Shocked by what was lost, they were inspired by the devastation. The exhibition brings together artworks dating from between the fifteenth and twenty-first century, from old masters to contemporary artists. Allegorical representations of Mars, the god of war mercilessly attacks the arts are juxtaposed with images of destroyed cities, historical pieces, propaganda materials, postcards and critical reflections on art theft and destruction. The exhibition features a wide variety of media: from painting to graphics and tapestry art and from photography to video and monumental installations. The artworks are divided into five subthemes throughout the exhibition: destroyed cities, ruins, deliberate destruction, propaganda and art theft.
Cai Guo-Qiang, Adel Abdessemed, Emily Jacir, Fernando Bryce, Lamia Joreige, Lida Abdul, Michael Rakowitz, Mona Hatoum, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Sven Augustijnen, Francesco Hayez, Floris Jespers, Pierre Alphonse & Pierre Emile Arnou, Frans Francken II, Henri Bles, Pietro da Cortona, Simon de Vlieger, Aurèle Augustin Coppens, William Turner, Michael Sweerts
Curators: Eline Van Assche and Ronald Van de Sompel
Scientific committee: Koenraad Brosens (KU Leuven), Luc Delrue (M), Mark Derez (KU Leuven, Universiteitsarchief), Goedele Pulinx (M), Marjan Sterckx (UGent), Jo Tollebeek (KU Leuven), Tom Verschaffel (KU Leuven), Hélène Verreyke (M) and Eva Wittocx (M)