The colors of the money in the National Bank

After the first joint BNB-Deutsche Bank exhibition in 2019, the Banco de España and the National Bank of Belgium went deeper with “(un) common Values”, a set of works from both collections, in the color of money .

BNB celebrates 50at anniversary of its contemporary art collectionstarted in 1972 with Alechinsky and the geometric abstraction of the great Belgian trio “Ds”: Dekeyser, Delahaut and Dotremont.

BNB also welcomes his sister and eldest, the Bank of Spain, which in part began the collection of modern art in the late 1970s. Nearby famous addresses (the Prado, the National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, the National Gallery Reina Sofia), the BDE contains a collection of 4,000 works (80% contemporary art, such as Jorge Rivalta who operated through the prism of Charles V to work on the historical links of Belgium-Spain, and 20% classical masters, such as Antwerper’s Cornelis van Cleve). BNB brings together 2,000.

Since the two establishments are closed to the public, the works are usually hung in different places (in Spain) and at the headquarters on the Boulevard de Berlaimont. BDE mainly bought Spanish artists, then the opening of the community brought it to European and Latin American works. In this museum-banking enterprise, the ECB has a tradition of also accepting loans (of works of art, and not of money) from all national banks. If BDE has permanent space for the exhibition, it is still being considered as part of its 2025 real estate plan.

So, the Spaniards Jorge Rivalta operated by the prism of Charles V to work on the historic Belgium-Spain link. Other artists, such as Carlos Aires where Peter Vermeerschis common in both collections.

BNB makes between 2 and 5 annual purchases, advised by Carine Fol for four yearsCENTRALE director for contemporary art (advisor changes every six years, like a central bank president)

“(un) common Values. Two corporate collections of contemporary art”, view of the exhibition. Works presented: Honoré δ’O, “Biobliotopy with Tools”; Pol Pierart, “Peace/Prize”; Carlos Aires “Reflections in a Golden Eye.”
© Patrick Vanden Branden/NBB

Seven bedrooms

The very aristocratic BNB counter room therefore agreed to divide into seven rooms (unrelated to the seven deadly sins). These seven rooms are on their ephemeral wall over 90 works by 43 visual artists born in xxat century, coins ordered or purchased by two central banks. Three registers place punctuation in the exhibition. First of all “Exchange Issues” (Materials for exchange) opens with the work of gold leaf of Jonathan Monk which carries this warning: “This component must be installed by an accountant”. Facing him is a volcanic sculpture by Peter Buggenhout, “The blind leading the blind”, in reference to Brueghel.



At his event in 1982, Guy Bleus burned his attire made of 50 Belgian franc notes and all the identity cards of the guests at the event …

On the side of BDE, “Contrato “‘s Sara Ramois a wall sculpture of scraps of newspaper pages from the financial crisis, remaining subprime. BNB offers a hilarious and painful picture of Blue Guys (living artist, retired from the art world), “Value-shredder demonetization” (1982). This is the fruit of an event where, wearing a suit made of 50 Belgian franc notes sewnhe burned his suit and the identity card of the guestsbefore using his national number as his sole identification, starting with the number 42 (year of his birth).

The second register “I Contain a Lot” (I Contain the Multitudes), borrowed its title from a Bob Dylan song, and focused on identity. BNB offers three obsessive portraits by Paul Duhem: this follower of Art Brut painted without changing brushes, thus inseminating from room to room the residues of his colors.

“(un) common Values. Two corporate collections of contemporary art”, view of the exhibition. Works presented: Bleda y Rosa, “Prontuario. Notas en torno a la Guerra y la Revolución. I Trafalgar and Prontuario. Notas en torno a la Guerra y la Revolución”; Bleda y Rosa, “VIII Cadiz”; Miriam Cahn, “at the border”; Wendy Morris, “Discipline is the Ultimate Happiness.
© Patrick Vanden Branden/NBB

The tragedies and the iconoclasts

It is then a dialogue in between Portuguese photographer Helena Almeida (BDE) who evoked the death of his sister during a performance in his studio, dressed like him, his emotions reflected in the paint notes (“Seduzir”), and the Belgian Michaël Borremans (“The Cutters”), whose silhouettes are busy cutting boxes that could be coffins.



The two banks produced an exhibition of salutary philosophical irony, in which tragic Hispanic theatricality and Belgian iconoclasm married wonderfully.

Finally, “Peace/Prize” proves the saying worthy for Broodthaers and Georges Pérec (“Peace is the price without the“ r ”), with“ Enchanted Woods ”and especially“ Reflection in a golden eye ”, many worthy eyes of the two beautiful film: “Reflections in a Golden Eye” by John Hustonshot in the golden version (the color of all greed), and “Doctor Edwards’ house” (Hitchcock) that Dalí drew the dream sequence with menacing eyes.

Yolanda RomeroCurator of Banco de España Collections, and Anne BambynekCurator of BNB, has made an exhibition of a salutary philosophical ironywhich perfectly blends the tragic Hispanic theatricality and Belgian iconoclasm.

“(un) common Values. Two corporate collections of contemporary art”

Boulevard de Berlaimont 3, 1000 Brussels

Note from L’Echo:




Poster of the exhibition “(un) common Values. Two corporate collections of contemporary art”.
© National Bank of Belgium

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