Jean Schwind

Jean Schwind, 'Provocations Part I: Erotic Works'

Jean Schwind (1935-1985), the most infamous and enigmatic figure in Belgian art of the 1970s, is the pseudonym of Jean Warie. He studies Romance Philology at Ghent University, and from 1966 to 1972 is an academic assistant there. In 1969 he has his first solo exhibition – somber drawings in black-and-white – at the Brussels gallery Fitzroy, of which he was a co-founder. The following year he presents a one-night-only exhibition of large-format erotic drawings. The exhibition subsequently travels to Ghent, Antwerp and Paris, and is meant as provocation. The subject – personages in an overheated and disorderly sex universe – and the elaboration reminiscent of Jean Dubuffet and graffiti, or of the orgiastic scenes of the surrealist André Masson, are in themselves fairly brutal, but in the societal context of the time this portrayal is also taken as a general attack on the reactionary tendency that hopes to 'save' culture from the up and coming wave of subversion. In Belgium, the socialist minister of justice Alfons Vranckx (1968-1973), attempts to squelch the moral decay by confiscating all cultural output deemed beyond the bounds of decency. This effort was to no avail; the invasion of low culture into art would only increase in strength. In this sense Schwind's erotic work presages that of artists who would later take up the baton and run with it.

Schwind was a spoilsport who deliberately violated the unwritten rules of the art world, an evil spirit who unleashed a modern iconoclastic fury.

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Artists: Jean Schwind

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