Willy ANTHOONS

1911: Born in Malines. 

1914: With his father mobilized in the war and detained as a prisoner in the Netherlands, the family fled to London. 

1918: Back in Brussels.

1923-1927: He attends evening classes at the Ecole Saint-Luc.

1927-1931: Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels. 

1931-1932: Military service. He carves the officers’ busts out of clay. 

1934: First group exhibition at the Cercle artistique in Tournai. 

1935: Marriage followed by a first birth. His family members are a source of inspiration for his first works. 

Group exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

1936-1937: Academy of Fine Arts of Ixelles, then Higher Institute of Decorative Arts of La Cambre in Oscar Jespers’ studio. He refines his modelling technique and becomes familiar with wood and stone cutting. 

1939: Group exhibition at the Schaerbeek Museum on the occasion of the Salon du Cercle Artistique Communal.

1940: Mobilization in the war. Anthoons falls seriously ill and is sent on convalescence to the south of France, to Nîmes and then to the Ardèche. From this stay, he retains a close contact with nature that transforms him spiritually. He creates works with a religious connotation. 

1942: Commission of a monumental work by the Ateliers Thiriaux of La Louvière. 

Robert Delevoy in his review “Apollo“, talks about Anthoons in his “Chronicle of 

Fine Arts“. The magazine becomes the eponymous gallery, a breeding ground for young artists, including Anthoons. 

His work, although still figurative, moves away from academism through his lyricism and his willingness to get closer to the soul of the things. 

1944: First solo exhibition at the Manteau gallery, Brussels. 

1945: Member of the Jeune Peinture Belge, a group with which he will exhibit in Brussels, Liege, La Louvière, Zurich, Stockholm, Buenos-Aires, Cairo, Alexandria. Anthoons’ sculptures already travel on several continents. First solo exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Apollo gallery exhibition. 

1946: In Paris for a short stay, he meets Henri Laurens and Henri-Georges Adam. His work explores voids, volumes in negatives. In a very creative way but marked by doubts, he destroys many works, especially his casts. He seems to want to move away from modelling. 

1947: Solo exhibition, Manteau gallery. Critics encourage him towards this new abstract path. 

1948: He settles permanently near Paris. He meets and benefits from the support of Léon Degrand (editor of the journal Art d’aujourd’hui), Roger Van Gindertael (editor of the journal Cimaise) and his friend Michel Seuphor, all defenders of non-figurative art. 

After discovering Mondrian’s work, he creates Human Cathedral, a key work combining abstraction and spirituality. 

1949: He participates in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and then the Salon de Mai. 

1950: Participation in La Jeune Sculpture. 

Exhibition at the Deux-îles gallery in Paris. He shows the result of his researches on direct cutting. 

The titles of his works become evocative of his deep desire to show the Being - transcendence, elevation, mutation, are words frequently used to titled works that attempt to reach the essence of life. 

1951: Retrospective at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Exhibition at the A.P.I.A.A.W. in Liège.

1952: Exhibition at the Apollo gallery in Brussels and then at the XXVIth Annual Salon at the Cercle Artistique et Littéraire of Charleroi. The public’s and critics’ gaze remains disconcerted by this abstract renewal of sculpture. The purified forms of Anthoons are sometimes considered simplistic. However, his works are included in major collections such as the one of Léon Legrand, who acquired some fifteen pieces. 

1953: Biennial of São Paulo, Middelheim, Sonsbeek and Yverdon.

1954: Solo exhibitions at Colette Allendy’s and Denise René’s in Paris. Exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. 

Anthoons’ “serene“ sculptures stand out for their respect for nature and their slowly elaborated forms. 

Following these exhibitions, Anthoons becomes interested in movement. The masses are transformed into animated metallic volumes. He makes lighter mobiles. 

1956: Solo exhibition at the Ariel gallery, Paris. 

1957: Exhibition, Somine Heller gallery, Paris (critic of Pierre Restany), then Veranneman gallery, Brussels. 

Exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and Liège. Léon-Louis Sosset and Jo Delahaut cover the events and write favourable reviews. Exhibition at the Casino of Knokke. First exhibition at the Saint-Laurent gallery, Brussels. 

1958: Group exhibition, Claude Bernard gallery, Paris.

1959: He decorates a chapel with Manessier in a village near Rambouillet. 

1960: Introduction of copper. Major intervention project in the church of Saint-Sulpice in Noisy-le-Grand. 

1962: End of the experimental period for metallic and flexible materials. New exhibition at the Ariel gallery. 

1963-64: He makes poems carved in wood in homage to his friend Michel Seuphor. These works will be exhibited in 1977 in Liege alongside Alechinsky, Bury, Dotremont, Vandercam, van Anderlecht... 

1966: First exhibition in Germany at the Appel und Fertsch gallery, Frankfurt.

1967: Exhibition, Fine Arts museum of Verviers. Decorations for the church of Sainte-Madeleine in Rennes.

1969: Exhibition, galerie le Zodiaque, Brussels.

1970: Exhibition, Jeanne Buytaert gallery, Antwerp. 

1972: Group exhibition, De Overgang, Stedelijk Museum, Leuven.

1970-1974: Teacher at the Estienne School. Like his work as an artist, he teaches with almost religious fervour a way of expressing the sensitive world. 

1974: Exhibition, Ariel gallery. 

1977: With a neurological disease, he completely stops sculpting. 

1982: Death in Paris.