Face to Face with Death. Hugo van der Goes, old masters and new interpretations

From 28 October, Musea Brugge will be presenting the exhibition Oog in oog met de Dood (Face to Face with Death) at St John's Hospital. The exhibition, which starts with the masterpiece The Death of the Virgin by Hugo van der Goes, unites over seventy works; in addition to this Flemish masterpiece, it includes paintings by Hans Memling, Jan Provoost and Albrecht Bouts, among others, as well as sculptures, manuscripts and musical works. Five 'new masters', Berlinde De Bruyckere, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Sholeh Rezazedeh and Ivo Van Hove, each introduce a facet of the exhibition and offer a new take on one of the most important works in Musea Brugge's world-renowned collection of Flemish primitives.

The Death of the Virgin by Hugo van der Goes is literally and figuratively the centrepiece of this exhibition. The painting, which he created between 1470 and 1472, shows a pale, blue-robed Virgin on her deathbed, surrounded by a group of apostles in a circular formation. Van der Goes found inspiration for the scene in the apocryphal gospels and the Legenda Aurea, which tells us how all the apostles were miraculously brought together around Mary's deathbed. The masterpiece underwent intensive restoration between 2018 and 2022 and is now on display to the general public for the first time.

The exhibition explores The Death of the Virgin in six themes. Each theme is elaborated on the basis of various masterpieces, from the museum's own collection and brought together from all over Europe. Paintings by Hans Memling, Jan Provoost and Albrecht Bouts, among others, will be on display, but the exhibition will also bring sculptures, manuscripts and musical pieces face to face with 'Death'. In total, more than seventy works of art will be displayed.

How can an artwork evoke universal themes that we are still discussing five centuries later? That the painting is more topical than ever is proven by five 'new masters', each of whom introduces a different facet of the exhibition. They are all virtuosos in their fields, touched in one way or another by The Death of the Virgin. They provide their innovative take on the themes in the work via video messages.

  • Berlinde De Bruyckere (1964), a top Belgian artist with numerous domestic and foreign exhibitions in renowned museums to her name.
  • Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (1960), one of Belgium's most lauded choreographers and dancers. Founder of the world-renowned company Rosas, and inspiration and mentor to dance companies from around the world.
  • Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (1968), Dutch poet and author of bestsellers such as Grand Hotel Europa and La Superba, for which he received the Libris Literature Award.
  • Sholeh Rezazadeh (1989), young Iranian-Dutch writer and doctor. With her debut novel 'De hemel is altijd paars' (The Sky Is Always Purple) she stood out in the international literary world and won several awards.
  • Ivo van Hove (1958), theatre and opera director, and also director of the International Theater Amsterdam. He has already worked with several top international names, including David Bowie on the musical Lazarus.

As part of the exhibition, Musea Brugge is also organising various public activities, including a concert and performance programme in collaboration with Concertgebouw Brugge, Cactus Muziekcentrum, VIERNULVIER and KAAP, among others.

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Time information

from 28-10-2022 to 05-02-2023
Monday closed
Tuesday 09:30 - 17:00 h
Wednesday 09:30 - 17:00 h
Thursday 09:30 - 17:00 h
Friday 09:30 - 17:00 h
Saturday 09:30 - 17:00 h
Sunday 09:30 - 17:00 h


Mariastraat 38 , Brugge