Victor Servranckx
Year, Birthplace 1897, Belgium
Year, Place of death 1965, Belgium
At the Académie des beaux-arts in Brussels, Victor Servranckx attended Constant Montald’s decorative painting courses between 1913 and 1917, finishing his degree in 1917. Some of his fellow students at the academy (Karel Maes, Pierre-Louis Flouquet, Marcel-Louis Baugniet, René Magritte - whom he met in 1916) would later, like him, be protagonists of the avant-garde. From 1917, he took part in various group exhibitions, such as the one organised by Doe Stil Voort at the Musée d'art moderne in Brussels in 1918. That year, with his friend Magritte, he began to earn a living as a designer for the Peters-Lacroix wallpaper factory, where he contributed to the development of this applied art. There is no doubt that this experience, which would last until 1925, influenced his evolution from fauvism to geometric abstraction. Remaining close to cubism and futurism until 1923, he then joined the movement known as pure plastic art. In 1922, together with Magritte, Servranckx drew up the manifesto L'Art Pur, Défense de l'Estéthique [Pure Art, Defence of the Aesthetic], a text influenced by Le Corbusier, Amédée Ozenfant and the cubist theories of Pierre Reverdy. This text, contradicting the principle defended by the weekly 7 Arts, demonstrated his independence. Influenced as much by futurism as by purism, he departed from figurative elements to evoke the world of technology and machines through a series of geometric shapes, vertical and horizontal combinations and circles, making him one of the pioneers of abstract art. From 1923, Servranckx started to gain recognition – his first solo exhibition was held at the Galerie Royale in Brussels, in 1924 – and he was invited to exhibit abroad, particularly at the Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, in 1928. He was also interested in applied arts and contributed to various decorative and architectural projects. In 1925, he received the gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of Decorative Arts. In 1937, for the Brussels Radio Salon, he created a 550 m² fresco which is considered to be one of the most important examples of Belgian mural art. From 1926 onwards, influenced by the Belgian scene, he evolved towards a form of surrealism with an abstract tendency. Possessed by a metaphysical frenzy, he painted fantastical visions of cosmic spaces. After the war, he returned to geometric abstraction and resumed some of his compositions from the 1920s. From 1947 to 1950 and from 1954 to 1957, he took part in the Réalités Nouvelles Salons in Paris, where the abstractionists exhibited. Increasingly sombre, his compositions from that period approached neo-plasticism. The movement called La Jeune Peinture Belge, which marked the rebirth of abstraction after the war, recognised him as one of its predecessors and Servranckx benefited from numerous exhibitions. The Palais des beaux-arts in Brussels, in 1947, and the Musée d'Ixelles, in the year of his death, honoured him with important retrospectives. AC