Forbidden art in Belgium

1) The Temple of the Human Passions

In 1899 the Brussels sculptor Jef Lambeaux carved an enormous frieze called Les Passions Humaines out of 17 blocks of pure white Carrara marble. It featured dozens of naked bodies symbolising human passions and sins such as joy, seduction, suicide and rape. Once the work was finished, it was placed inside a neat neoclassical temple built in the Cinquantenaire Park by the young architect Victor Horta. But the work was controversial even before it was carved. When Lambeaux produced an early sketch, the art magazine l’Art Moderne condemned it as “a pile of naked and contorted bodies, chaotic and vague, bloated and pretentious, pompous and empty”. The Belgian public was equally shocked when the work was finally unveiled. Three days later, the temple was closed to the public and the entrance boarded up. More than a century later, the frieze is still hidden behind a solid wall. But the building is now open on certain days in the summer. Otherwise, you can peer through the keyhole to see what caused all the fuss.

frieze Temple of the Human Passions

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