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Xavier Hufkens is one of Europe’s leading galleries for contemporary art. Located in Brussels, the gallery maintains a diverse programme with solo exhibitions by multiple generations of leading artists and estates. The gallery deals in a distinctive combination of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and installation-based work.
The origins of the gallery date back to 1987, when Xavier Hufkens opened a gallery space in an un-refurbished warehouse in the neighbourhood of the South Station (Midi) in Brussels. During the early years, the focus of the gallery was upon mid-career and emerging artists and the gallery is known for having introduced some of the most influential contemporary artists to Brussels at a time when they were still relatively unknown. British sculptor Antony Gormley, who is still affiliated with the gallery, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Rosemarie Trockel all showed in Belgium for the first time with Xavier Hufkens (Gormley in 1987; Gonzalez-Torres in 1991 and Trockel in 1993).
In 1992, the gallery moved to a 19th-century townhouse at 6 rue Saint-Georges, close to the Avenue Louise. Completely renovated by Belgian architects Paul Robbrecht, Hilde Daem and Marie-José Van Hee, the house quickly gained a reputation for being not just one of the most beautiful contemporary art spaces in the Belgian capital, but also one of the most interesting. The expanded exhibition programme coincided with the additional representation of a number of established artists from Belgium and abroad, including Richard Artschwager, Thierry De Cordier and Jan Vercruysse. In 1997, Hufkens expanded the gallery further by annexing the adjacent building and a number of new artists joined the gallery, including Louise Bourgeois, Roni Horn and Thomas Houseago.
A second space in the same street, at 107 rue Saint-Georges, opened in spring 2013. Located in the Galerie Rivoli, a mixed-use commercial development from the 1970s, the new gallery space was designed by Swiss architect Harry Gugger, who was previously in partnership with Herzog and De Meuron. Slegten & Toegemann, Brussels, managed the project.
An eclectic but very clear vision underpins all of the gallery’s activities: “The definition of the gallery was established from the start. The common thread, then and now, is quality over and above everything else, which I find more intellectually challenging than a forced definition. From the early days I juxtaposed established artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto with someone like Felix Gonzalez-Torres when he was totally unknown. Today I still mix my work: I have no problem showing Malcolm Morley … alongside Robert Ryman, or Willem de Kooning.” [Xavier Hufkens in The Art Newspaper, Issue 220, January 2011, published online: 20 January 2011]
Xavier Hufkens represents some forty artists from different generations. He was part of the six-member selection committee for Art Basel during seven years and also participates in up to eight international art fairs annually. The gallery has partnerships with the estates of Louise Bourgeois, Willem de Kooning, Robert Mapplethorpe and Alice Neel.