The Verbeke Foundation was founded by art collectors, Geert Verbeke and Carla Verbeke-Lens, who started collecting art in the early 1990s. Initially, their interest was in abstract art, though later the focus of the collection shifted to collages and assemblages created mainly by Belgian artists. Assemblages differ from collages in that they are usually created on a substrate with three- dimensional elements that project from it, while collage tends to be a two-dimensional medium. Both often use found objects but are not limited to these materials. In recent years, the collection has further expanded to include contemporary art and bio art.
The Foundation is located within a private site which opened to the public in 2007. It is one of the largest private initiatives for contemporary art in Europe. The Foundation describes itself as ‘a refuge’ for arts and holds an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art and also offers opportunities for emerging and less renowned artists such as Franco Angeloni,WillBeckers, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Sjoerd Buisman, Jan Fabre, Joost Conijn, Peter Greenaway, Mateusz Hercka, Eduardo Kac, Joep van Lieshout, Gust Romein, herman de vries.
Culture, nature and ecology work together at the Foundation which is set within a large open space with 20,000 sq metres of covered space. Because the Verbeke Foundation aims to be a place where culture, nature and ecology are closely intertwined, the work of bio-artists and artists who work with living organisms (plants, animals) dovetail perfectly with the museum. The warehouses of the former Verbeke transport agency were converted into exhibition halls, with one building furnished to exhibit the extraordinary collection of collages and assemblages. The Foundation describes itself as a living organism and, as such, looks different from one day to the next.
The Foundation displays works from its own collection, as well as organising exhibitions of contemporary art. There are two major group shows every year; one in the summer, the other in the winter. The Foundation is committed to continuous growth and the process of transformation, enabling new art works to be regularly seen and Artists in residence to stay and work at the Foundation on a regular basis.
Large and small exhibitions are held continuously, while a selection of an exceptional array of some 4500, particularly twentieth century, collages and ‘assemblages’ from the collection are permanently displayed within a separate building. The Foundation is also a place where visitors have an opportunity to look behind the scenes to watch the mounting and taking down of exhibitions.