Meet Kunst in Huis ahead of the 14th edition of Affordable Art Fair Brussels, 8 – 12 February 2023.
We met up with the team from the Belgian art platform Kunst in Huis, including Claudine Hellweg (Artistic Direction), Vincent Verbist (Artistic Projects) and Caroline Van Meerbeek (Interim Director), before our upcoming fair this February.
They will be participating at Affordable Art Fair Brussels for the first time. Kunst in Huis rents and sells over 5,000 contemporary artworks by 400 artists based in Belgium either online, or in their multiple venues located in Brussels, Gent, Antwerp, Leuven and Kortrijk. Gain a deeper insight into Kunst in Huis’ unique approach, their tips on acquiring art and which artists they will be presenting during the 14th edition of Affordable Art Fair Brussels (8 – 12 February, Tour & Taxis).
Kunst in Huis was founded 44 years ago. It was created as an instrument to bring contemporary art to everyone’s home. We are not a ‘gallery’ because we are a partly government funded organization. The idea is that people can rent an artwork with us for a maximum of one year. If you don’t like the artwork anymore after a few months, you can change it against a different one. This allows the client to try and find their taste in art without immediately having to commit to one artwork.
We have both an online and physical presence. We have the entire collection of artworks on our website, and we also have venues in 5 Belgian cities where people can come and meet one of our team members, ask questions and see some of the works available in that specific venue. The client can also request to see an artwork, which might be located in our Antwerp venue, in Brussels, so that they can view the work before renting it out or buying it. We use the vitrines of select venues as a project space to present some of the artist’s work. In this case, we invite artists and give them a carte blanche to create a work for this specific space.
We mostly work with starting and emerging artists in order to allow them to reach a bigger audience and to give them the support they need to grow. In recent years, we have also become an interesting platform for curators and other art professionals to spot emerging talent. It’s nice to see that galleries are picking up artists that we are showcasing on our platform. Our aim is to act as a springboard for these artists. Some, like Michaël Borremans, Wim Delvoye or Berlinde Debruycke, had started with us on Kunst in Huis and have ended up being very successful artists.
The fact that we work with around 400 artists makes us quite unique. We aim to be accessible to a broad audience. Everyone is welcome to rent or buy a work with us. What also makes Kunst in Huis special is the fact that we work with such a broad range of artists from different generations, all working with very different media and styles. We try to represent everything that is going on in the art world right now.
For all kinds of practical reasons, we are limited to Belgian and international artists based in Belgium. The works that we select need to be able to be hung on the wall or to be placed on a pedestal. That being said, we also try to be open to other kinds of works with our different projects and exhibitions that we organize.
We do an open call twice a year. Artists are invited to apply and our selection committee of around eight people, called ‘Goede Neuzen’ (literal translation: good noses), then pick artists whose work corresponds to a certain level of quality, who show a professional ambition and a unique style. In addition to the open call, we also have contact with some art professionals who we address once or twice a year to see if they have any artists to recommend for Kunst in Huis. We also visit some of the master’s exhibitions or open studios in Belgium to see if we can spot any artists who could be interesting to work with.
We have around 2,500 clients, so we need to have a very big collection of artworks.
The Belgian Art scene has so many different layers which include collectors, artists, museums, art collections, art galleries, art spaces, art schools and so much more.
Belgium has a huge variety of collectors and art collections: high level collectors, starting collectors, private collectors, public collections, corporate collections and so on. Many experts even say that Belgium has the highest number of collectors per capita in the world, which shows that the country has such a big history of art collectors. This is quite unique for such a small country.
In general, it is very interesting to work with art in Belgium. It is amazing to see that there are so many talented young artists. They might not all get the opportunities that they would need to really grow, but there is a huge potential.
We will be participating at Affordable Art Fair Brussels for the first time. Most of the artists that we have decided to bring to the fair have recently been added to Kunst in Huis, and most of them are quite young artists working with very different media: photography, sculpture, textile work, paintings and more. We are happy to present and sell the works of Maen Florin, Nick Ervinck, Selin Aydinol, Sarah Lauwers, Neoza Goffin, Jonas Vanderbeke, Pieter Bauters and Manon Clement during the fair.
Just go for it! The great thing about Kunst in Huis is that you can just choose an artwork and rent it and see if you like it or not before making the decision to buy it outright. When it comes to renting art, you can’t do much wrong, there is no real risk at all.
We also think that you should really feel a private connection to the piece of art that you want to acquire. It should be something that talks to you. In the case that you have an instant crush with an artwork, you should have confidence to make the plunge. Art rarely lets you down.
Kunst in Huis’ debut at Affordable Art Fair Brussels (8 – 12 February, Tour & Taxis) is not one to miss! Head to their stand to meet the team and to discover the works of their extraordinary artists.