Cat Cafés Are All The Rage

It had to come sooner or later. After dog beer, it was only a matter of time before the first cat cafes began to open in Flanders. From Japan, via the US, France and Germany, reports De Morgen, it has blown across to our country: het kattencafé – the cat cafe.

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Leffe Niet Gemaakt Door Monniken In Abdij: Amerikaanse Bierdrinker Dient Klacht In

Een Amerikaanse bierdrinker sleept AB Inbev voor de rechter nadat hij Leffe had gekocht. Henry Vasquez, een oogarts uit Miami, stelt dat hij misleid werd. Hij geloofde immers dat Leffe door monniken werd gebrouwen in een Belgische abdij, maar het bier komt in werkelijkheid uit een fabriek waar ook Stella Artois wordt gebrouwen. Vasquez voert aan dat de opschriften op de verpakking van het bier misleidend zijn en dat hij dus te veel betaalde voor zijn Leffe bruin en blond.

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History Of Tour De Flanders

“To understand where that passion comes from you have to go back to the early years of the twentieth century, and particularly to the year of 1912, which saw Odile Defraye become the first Belgian winner of the Tour de France and the foundation of Flemish newspaper Sportwereld. While Defraye’s victory added impetus to the already flourishing cycling scene in Belgium, the subsequent appearance of Sportwereld in September 1912 would have a more significant effect."

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John Cleese On Flemish Folk And Walloons

The Briton is also eager to discover the difference between ‘Flemish folk’ and the ‘Walloons’ when he dialogs with his audience. Cleese has been living outside Europe since last September, so don’t expect any comedy centring on the refugee crisis or Brexit. Still, he insists he is ready for Belgium and its diverse audiences.

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Belgians Joining Isis

A measure of the extent of young people turning to radicalism is the number who have been convinced to go to Syria to fight on the side of Islamist factions, including IS. An estimated 300 fighters have gone to Syria from Belgium; the number for the UK, with about five times the population, is 700. Of major concern is what happens if and when those fighters return.

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Walter Van Den Broeck Over Peter Jules Van Den Broeck

Dit is een fragment uit ‘Aantekeningen van een Stambewaarder’. De boeken van Walter van den Broeck verschijnen bij De Bezige Bij Antwerpen. Op een legale manier kon je immigratie nooit worden geregeld. Gelukkig waren de immigratiewetten in die tijd niet zo erg streng. Je arriveerde en je ging gewoon aan de slag. Verder werden er geen vragen gesteld

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Save Chicago’s Belgian Hall!

Recently in Chicago, a committee was formed to “Save the Belgian Hall”. The Belgian Hall is a two-story structure located at 2625 W. Fullerton in Chicago, Illinois. The building was constructed in 1921, by the All Belgians are Equal Club, one of the predecessor organizations of the current Belgian American Club of Chicago. However, in 1979, the building was sold and has remained vacant and used for storage since then. At the end of August 2013, a for sale sign appeared. With the condition of the building and urban renewal of the neighborhood, there is a strong possibility the building may be torn down. And this would be a shame, as the building is so much more than a structure; it is a symbol of a Belgian past and should become a reminder to future generations of their Belgian ancestry.

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Remembering Camille Cools

As many of you may be aware, this year we mark the 100th anniversary of the Gazette van Detroit (first edition published August 13, 1914). It is also the 98th anniversary of the death of the Founder of the Gazette van Detroit: Camille Cools. When Cools died on September 27, 1916 he was a 43-year-old man. He left behind a young wife and two young daughters.

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A Brief History Of The Gazette Van Detroit

According to the 2000 census, there are 360,642 persons of Belgian heritage in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these “Belgian-Americans” – more than 90% – are descendants of Flemish immigrants who arrived in North America between 1880 and 1930. Michigan, with 53,135 persons claiming Belgian descent, has the second-largest community, after Wisconsin. The Belgians in Michigan are also predominantly Flemish (Dutch-speaking), and concentrated in the Detroit area. However, the Flemish involvement in North America did not begin in the 19th century and has not always been centered around Detroit.

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King Baudouin Foundation – Successful Transatlantic Philanthropy

Have you ever wondered how U.S. citizens are able to donate money to the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp and still receive a U.S. tax deduction? Or, how our Belgian friends can donate to the Gazette van Detroit and still receive a tax deduction from the Belgian Government? Or even how North Americans can donate money to help giant rats become heroes in Tanzania? The answer to all three of these questions is the King Baudouin Foundation United States in New York City (“KBFUS”).

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Remembering Flanders’ Fields

On November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM the guns fell silent between the millions of armed men along the 800 mile-long Western Front. Literally up until that minute on many stretches of the front line, men fought and died. On November 11, 2012 a small group of Belgians and Americans commemorated the sacrifice of these young men.

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Stars And Stripes, Made In Belgium


FEBRUARY 8, 2013

The flags that were used for the inauguration ceremony of president Barack Obama were produced at a location you may not have expected: Oostrozebeke, Belgium. The Waelkens flag company employs 40 people.  Small orders are embroided, sometimes by hand, at the production facility in Belgium, while large orders are produced on silkscreen machines in Romania.  Waelkens ships about 2,000 flags a year to the U.S.

Belgian Artist René Magritte In The U.S.


JUNE 3, 2013  

By Jason-Louise Graham

“My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, “What does that mean?” It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.” -René Magritte

Will 2013 be the year of René Magritte? Several US museums are gearing up to launch their blockbuster retrospec-tive of the Belgian artist René Magritte starting with the Museum of Modern Art, New York on September 28, 2013. The exhibit moves to The Menil Collection, Houston on February 14, 2014, and ends at the Art Institute of Chicago on June 25, 2014. Works by René Magritte have not been shown in the US for 20 years. Who was he and why the interest?

René Magritte (1898-1967) was born in Lessines, Belgium. He has been acclaimed as one of Belgium’s most prolific artists. Although Magritte’s father was not an artist – rather, a tailor and textile merchant – he always encouraged his son’s artistic aspirations. The eldest of three sons, his talents were piqued by tragedy. At an early age his mother committed suicide. Then, of course, he had lived through both world wars. These experiences changed René Magritte forever.

As a distraction Magritte plunged into writing mystery novels and poetry. During the course of his readings he came across the famous Fantomas serial by Louis Feuillade. The protagonist in the serial is a sinister gentleman thief. Magritte identified with this character which in turn manifested itself through-out his work. Though his artwork is astonishingly witty, thought provoking and beautifully dreamy, this haunting part of his life seems to underscore all his work. The result is an aura of mystery.

The eldest of three sons, René Magritte began taking art courses at the age of 12 in 1910. Magritte’s first landscape depicted the Belgian countryside around Jette, a work that is visible at the Mag-ritte Museum in Belgium today. Magritte’s first great oil painting, “Chevaux dans une Pature” (Horses in a pasture), followed in 1911. He produced his first Impressionist work inspired by Monet, in 1915, at the age of 17.

The early 20th Century was a time when art, politics and academia were closely aligned. Magritte was attracted to the avant-garde. Like others, he believed this movement opened up new ways of seeing the world. This was particularly relevant in the wake of the horrible amount of death and destruction from the First World War (1914-18).

Magritte thus moved to Brussels and joined the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts there in 1918. In Brussels, he rejected what he considered to be a bourgeois, traditional approach to education. Finding little to identify with, he left school in 1918.

After completing his mandatory military service in 1921, Magritte returned home to marry his childhood friend Georgette Berger. Georgette would be-come the artist’s muse and only model. To make a living Magritte began his career as a poster and advertisement designer at a wallpaper company. He did this until 1926. After selling his first painting of the singer Evelyne Brelia, he was signed by Galerie la Centaure. Under their auspices he began a full-time career as a painter.

At the Gallery, Magritte’s work be-gan to reflect his ideals, and he created his first surrealist painting “Le jockey perdu” in 1926. He had been intrinsically changed by the works of the surrealist De Chirico in 1922, and was said to have wept upon seeing De Chirico’s piece “Song of Love” – after which Magritte vowed to henceforth only create paintings that would be visual poems.


Magritte’s first exhibition of 61 works at Galerie la Centaure included more acclaimed pieces like “Treachery of Images” and “The Lovers”. The show was viciously savaged by critics, after which Magritte moved to Paris. The decade that followed Magritte’s conversion to surrealism was an exception-ally creative one for the arts; so much so he has henceforth been lauded as Belgium’s most influential artist in the 20th century.

Witty and thought provoking, he began creating strange, memorable images that are considered the first, closest, and most realistic depictions of the surrealist images and experiences we have in our dreams and subconscious imagination. His most enduring depictions include trains steaming out of fireplaces, rooms stuffed to the brim with giant green apples, and bowler-hatted men raining like hailstones from the sky. Many contemporary artists today, such as Jeff Koons and John Baldessari, continue to be influenced by Magritte’s work.

Belgian native Jason-Louise Graham resides in New York. Jason-Louise’s passion for René Magritte extends to her day job as well. Ms. Graham works at Rare Posters Inc., the exclusive distributors for the René Magritte products in the USA. Jason-Louise Graham can be reached at

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 is organized by The Museum of Modern Art, The Menil Collection, and The Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition at MoMA is organized by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture, with Danielle Johnson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture. The exhibition travels to The Menil Collection, Houston (February 14–June 1, 2014), and The Art Institute of Chicago (June 29–October 12, 2014).

Picture information and copyright:

René Magritte (Belgium, 1898-1967). La clairvoyance (Clairvoyance). 1936. Oil on canvas. 21 1/4 x 25 9/16 (54 x 65 cm). Mr and Mrs. Wilbur Ross © Charles Hercovici — Adagp – ARS, 2013.

René Magritte (Belgium, 1898-1967). La durée poignardée (time transfixed). 1938. Oil on canvas. 57 7/8 x 39 (147 x 99 cm).  the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.  Joseph Winterbotham Collection © Charles Hercovici — Adagp – ARS, 2013.