Object 5

Paul van Hoeydonck
Planetscape II
Circular relief. Plastic and metallic elements on wooden board painted in white
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Inv. 7054


If Paul Van Hoeydonck (° Antwerp 1925) is well known today, it's because he made an 8.5 cm aluminium sculpture that now stands on the Moon. On 2 August 1971, the artist realised his greatest dream when the astronaut David Scott placed the representation of a human figure on the Moon's surface, following the Apollo 15 mission. For NASA, this action signified a tribute to ”fallen astronauts”, while for the artist it concluded over ten years of work on the theme of light, space, time and demarcation. As a member of the Antwerp G58 group, Paul Van Hoeydonck began as a radical avant-garde in the art of painting, before also later becoming a sculptor and assembly artist. He was the first in Belgium to exhibit white monochrome reliefs, even before the sensational exhibition by the German Zero group.

Planetscape IIdates back to 1963, at a time when the artist flirted between two different cultural influences. He succeeded in combining his radical imagery in new abstraction, focused on purity, monochrome white and without reference, with the optimism and enthusiasm for the immense adventure of people conquering the cosmos. In doing so, he joined the popular culture of the mass media. Indeed, the science-fiction genre, that had developed in the cold-war context, was popular among young people aged 7 right up to 77. As a result, science-fiction novels, series, cartoons and films about the “place where no man has gone before” also made their mark in pop-art, nouveau réalisme and in performances in the sixties. As from 1960, based on the monochrome white reliefs, Van Hoeydonck developed his personal iconography of the cosmos: light and shadow, screens and radars, space accidents and robots, undiscovered planets and white cities of the future with which he portrays the myth of the ”homo spatiens".

Le siècle d’Eva. Biographie d’un ange du XXe ciel
Casterman, 2013


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