The exhibition features 24 artworks from 12 artists: Ai Weiwei, Fiona Banner, Dirk Braeckman, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Marlene Dumas, Roni Horn, Giuseppe Penone, Thomas Schütte, Fiona Tan, Luc Tuymans, Jeff Wall and Cathy Wilkes.
Hendrik Driessen has been the director of the De Pont Museum since it first opened its doors in 1992. During that time, the museum has become greatly admired not only for its well-considered programme of exhibitions, but its world-class art collection. By building relationships with some of the greatest artists of their generation, Driessen has amassed over 800 artworks by 80 artists over the course of his tenure.
Driessen’s aim has always been to focus on a limited amount of artists, each of whom should be represented by at least one ‘key work’, capturing the essence of their outlook. The collection has been developed slowly, with a focus on depth, rather than breadth, and a policy that each new acquisition “must constitute a real enrichment, and be capable of contributing to the dialogue with works already present in the collection”.
The selection for Face to Face reflects this objective. Encompassing painting, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper, Face to Face brings together 24 artworks by 12 artists, all acquired by the De Pont Museum under Driessen. Themes and motifs recur, sparking connections between artworks – the selection is particularly rich in its representation of the human body, for instance, from Berlinde De Bruyckere’s visceral ink drawings of faces with bleeding eyes, to Thomas Schütte’s grotesque modelling clay figurines, bound together in his United Enemies series.
The De Pont Museum’s collection, as represented by Face to Face, demonstrates both the singularity of Driessen’s vision, and the power and potential of art collecting. “Collecting is like weaving a web,” Driessen told Widewalls Magazine in September 2017. “First, you need strong threads leading to opposing points … [then] you can start refining the web and building from there.”