Bart Meuleman & Dirk Pültau – Editorial

The editorial introduces the theme of this issue: the writing of the Flemish essayist Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013), one of the most important writers on art and culture in Flanders since the sixties. The issue focusses on Lauwaert's position as an intellectual and film critic, and on his writings on visual art. 


Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – essay writing


Rudi Laermans – Dirk Lauwaert as a critic. Fragments for an intellectual biography 

In this essay Rudi Laermans sketches a general 'intellectual portrait' of Dirk Lauwaert. What kind of writer and intellectual is he? To characterize Lauwaert, Laermans uses the German notion of the Feuilletonist – the kind of 'free writer' ('Freier Schriftsteller') who writes for 'das Feuilleton', the culture supplements of newspapers and weekly magazines. He analyses Lauwaert's critical yet positive attitude towards the leftish doxa of the May '68 generation, his search for a 'third cultural domain' between high and low culture, and the pivotal notion of 'experience' in his work.


art criticism – cultural criticism – Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – essay writing


Dirk Pültau – 'An art that still dialogues'. Dirk Lauwaert on the threshold of abstract art

This essay discusses Dirk Lauwaert's attitude towards modernism in society and the arts. Pültau argues that the perception of Lauwaert as a conservative critic is contradicted by his thorough analysis of avant-garde art from the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Although Lauwaert does reject certain kinds of radical avant-garde – like Duchamp, dadaism, radical abstraction – this rejection is more than a mere refusal to deal with the art in question. In particular, it is argued that Lauwaert's remarks on abstract art show a deep sensitivity to the 'crisis situation' with which art is confronted when it rejects representation.


art criticism – Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – modern art


Dirk Lauwaert, Bart Meuleman, Johan Reyniers – The right distance

In late 1994 Dirk Lauwaert gave a five part masterclass in art criticism at the Arts Centre Stuc, Leuven. Johan Reyniers was one of the participants. Together with Bart Meuleman, Reyniers worked up the notes he took during these sessions. This text follows as faithfully as possible the chronology of Lauwaert's discourse and thus offers an insight into his ideas on art criticism and his art critical methodology, as well as his style of lecturing and didactic praxis.


Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – art criticism


Gerard-Jan Claes – Words on film. On Dirk Lauwaert's film criticism 

Why do I write about film? Gerard-Jan Claes takes this question — posed by Dirk Lauwaert to himself in numerous texts – as a starting point to analyse Lauwaert's ideas on film criticism and its function. He makes clear that Lauwaert's writing finds its starting point in the experience of the viewer, in the way the viewer is 'immovably moved' by film, and shows how this premise is connected with the primordial function Lauwaert assigns to form in film (the mise-en-scène) and to filmic conventions and codes. Claes also discusses Lauwaert's critical attitude towards recent films in which, according to him, the possibility of experience tends to be destroyed.


Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – film criticism


Peter Delpeut – Memories of Dirk Lauwaert

Delpeut reflects on the life, work and intellectual outlook of Dirk Lauwaert. He starts from a recollection of personal memories – Dirk Lauwaert and he were intimate friends – and 'reading experiences' of Lauwaert's work, and proceeds to elaborate on Lauwaert's attitude towards life and the world, his relation with the arts and his ideas on the public status of the 'writer on art'. He pays special attention to Lauwaert's research in the Nederlands Filmmuseum – Delpeut worked as a programmer and assistant director in the museum from 1988 to 1995, and invited Lauwaert in 1994. Lauwaert's discovery of uncanonized film traditions (e.g. the Italian 'Diva Film' of the years 1910) in this museum resulted in a number of important essays on early film. 


Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – Essay writing


Dirk Lauwaert – writings on visual art 1984-2002

This issue also contains reprints of a small selection of twelve texts by Dirk Lauwaert. These have been choosen from the enormous number of reviews on visual art which Lauwaert wrote for two Flemish newspapers (De Nieuwe Gids and De Financieel Economische Tijd) and a weekly magazine (Knack) between 1983 and 2005. Eleven of them discuss individual artists: Pierre Bonnard (1984), Cy Twombly (1993), Claude Lorrain (1993), Edgar Degas (1996), Barnett Newman (1997), Eugène Delacroix (1998), Francesca Woodman (1998), Jackson Pollock (1999), Arnold Böcklin (2001), Pablo Picasso (2002) and Aelbert Cuyp (2002). The remaining text is an article on art nouveau (2001).


art criticism – Dirk Lauwaert (1944-2013) – visual art