After briefly working as an architect, René Heyvaert (1929-1984) decided to pursue a career as an artist. He saw art as essential to his life; a way of dealing with the world. Heyvaert’s oeuvre is diverse, but he is best known for his work with found objects that he reinterprets through minimal interventions. In two rooms, M is bringing together a hundred works, enhanced with a unique focus on his practice as an architect.

With a career as an architect and later as an artist, René Heyvaert not only worked in various disciplines, but his artistic practice is also very versatile. He has created drawings, photos, mail art, and sculptures in the most diverse of materials, as well as publishing and taking part in performances. But more than anything, it is his work with found everyday objects that put the Ghent-born artist on the map as an experimental artist. Through small, poetic interventions, Heyvaert took objects out of their context and stripped them of their original function completely. Good examples include the fork with sawn-off tines or the cleft soupspoon, works which Heyvaert created in the late 70s.

Heyvaert’s architecture will also be featured in the exhibition. Inspired by American case study houses and the modular homes of architects like Le Corbusier, Heyvaert worked on designs for innovative, affordable housing in the 1950s. The house that he designed and built for his brother in 1958 – a house on stilts, with large windows and a corrugated roof – is a perfect example. The Belgian architect Peter Swinnen, who renovated the house in 2016, has developed an exploratory exhibition architecture in one of the two rooms. In the other room, architects Arnaud Hendrickx and Wim Goossens developed a full-scale skeleton structure of Heyvaert’s home. This brings Heyvaert’s innovative ideas to life spatially in the exhibition.

For this exhibition, M has selected a number of works from the Cera Collection, a collection of Belgian contemporary art that is in long-term loan at the museum. These works are complemented with works from private collections and museums.