Though born after World War II in 1954, Jan Theuninck finds himself writing about the war and its aftermath. A poet and minimalist painter with a strong interest in social and political issues, Theuninck writes under his own name as well as the pen-name, ORC, a name he uses in honor of Raoul Wallenberg. Although Dutch is his mother tongue, he often writes in French. His work frequently appears in poetry journals and magazines internationally.
et nul mot sur eux est interdit
traités de crimes et de trahisons
ils ont été mis en prison
© by Jan Theuninck
A pacifist in World War I, Frans Masereel, tried to make his art accessible to the ordinary man. His works were banned by the Nazis and widely distributed in Communist countries. But he rejected "political" art and party affiliation, condemning all enslavements, oppression, war and violence, injustice, and the power of money. We present here some of his many works and witnesses.
The painter and graphic artist Frans Masereel was born in the Belgian town of Blankenberghe in 1889. In 1896 he moved to Gent, where he began to study art at the "Ecole des Beaux-Arts" in the class of Jean Delvin at the age of 18. In 1909 he travelled to England and Germany, where he was inspired to create his first etchings and woodcuts.
From 1911 Frans Masereel settled in Paris for four years and then emigrated to Switzerland, where he worked as a graphic artist for various journals and magazines. His woodcut series, which were mainly of sociocritical content and of expressionistic formal concept, gave Frans Masereel international acclaim. Among them were his so-called image novels including "Passion eines Menschen", "Mein Stundenbuch", "Die Sonne", "Die Idee" and "Geschichte ohne Worte", which all date from around 1920. At that time Frans Masereel also drew illustrations for famous works of world literature by Thomas Mann, Emile Zola and Stefan Zwei.
In 1921 the artist returned to Paris, where he created his famous street scenes, the Montmartre paintings. From 1925 Frans Masereel lived near Boulogne-sur-Mer, where he painted predominantly coastal landscapes, harbor views and protraits of sailors and fishermen. During the 1930s the number of illustrated books and individual woodcuts decreased considerably.
In 1940 the artist fled from Paris and lived in several locations in Southern France. At the end of World War II, Frans Masereel was able to resume his artistic work, which had been lying idle for years. He created woodcuttings and paintings. From 1946 Masereel worked for several years as a teacher at the "Centre des Métiers d'Art" in Saarbrücken. In 1949 he moved to Nice. In the following years until 1968 numerous woodcut series appeared, which differed from his earlier "novels in images" as they were no longer based on a continuous narrative but on variations of a subject.
Examples of Frans Masereel's Woodcuts
During the Great War, Frans Masereel joined in the fight to stop the war, a hopeless struggle, given the general fervour. Ink drawings and woodcuts were his instruments, and his engravings were brought together in collections Arise, You Dead and The Dead Speak which are unequivocal denunciations of the blood-letting. Masereel simplifies, brutalizes, contrasting black and white. He takes scenes and photographs from the newspapers and in a drawing style all of his own, he takes suffering to unbearable extremes. Or he uses a macabre and fantastic style with two headless bodies carrying their heads on a stretcher, one with a French képi and the other with a German helmet. It is madness everywhere, a madness against which Masereel knows he is powerless.
Emile Verhaeren was a Belgian poet, art critic and wrote short stories and verse plays. He was born at St Amand lez-Pueres, NC Belgium on May 21st of 1855.
He studied law at the University of Louvain and while there started a journal, La Semaine, which was suppressed by the authorities as well as the following work Le Type. He was admitted to the bar at Brussels in 1881 but soon began devoting his time to literature, writing in French. He was soon one of the leading figures of the Belgian literary renaissance.
His poetry hovers between powerful sensuality, as in Les Flamandes (1883) and the harrowing despair of Les Debacles (1888). Among his most notable works are La Multiple Splendeur (1906) and the five-part Tout la Flandre (1904-11).
Source: PoemHunter.com: http://www.poemhunter.com/emile-verhaeren/biography/
In this play the Belgian poet, Emile Verhaeren, has voiced his hopes for the regeneration of human society. The city of Oppidomagne is beseiged by a hostile army, and the revolutionists in both armies conspire and revolt. The gates of the city are thrown open, and the end of war declared. A captain in the hostile army is speaking over the body of Hérénian, leader of the revolutionists in the city.
I was his disciple, and his unknown friend. His books were my Bible. It is men like this who give birth to men like me, faithful, long obscure, but whom fortune permits, in one overwhelming hour, to realize the supreme dream of their master. If fatherlands are fair, sweet to the heart, dear to the memory, armed nations on the frontiers are tragic and deadly; and the whole world is yet bristling with nations. It is in their teeth that we throw them this example of our concord. (Cheers.) They will understand some day the immortal thing accomplished here, in this illustrious Oppidomagne, whence the loftiest ideas of humanity have taken flight, one after another, through all the ages. For the first time since the beginning of power, since brains have reckoned time, two races, one renouncing its victory, the other its humbled pride, are made one in an embrace. The whole earth must needs have quivered, all the blood, all the sap of the earth must have flowed to the heart of things. Concord and good will have conquered hate. (Cheers.) Human strife, in its form of bloodshed, has been gainsaid. A new beacon shines on the horizon of future storms. Its steady rays shall dazzle all eyes, haunt all brains, magnetize all desires. Needs must we, after all these trials and sorrows, come at last into port, to whose entrance it points the way, and where it gilds the tranquil masts and vessels.
The Cathedral of Rheims