Exhibition: ‘Raoul Servais. A world between magic and realism’

13th of August 2021

A tribute to the Belgian pioneer of animated film, with drawings, background props and instruments the ‘Wizard of Ostend’ used to make his films. The King Baudouin Foundation is organising a free exhibition to make works donated by Servais available to the public. At the BELvue Museum from 24 September.

A pioneer of animated film

Raoul Servais (b. 1928, Ostend) is one of the most innovative Belgian filmmakers of the twentieth century. Throughout his career, the self-taught pioneer of animated film has been on an experimental quest to develop new techniques. With an oeuvre spanning 16 animated short films as well as the feature film Taxandria, the cineaste is a source of inspiration for animated filmmakers across the world. His creations are often politically or socially conscious: each film’s graphic style is carefully selected to emphasise its underlying message. The filmmaker has won more than 60 international awards at countless film festivals, including the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his surrealist work Harpya (1979) – the first time a Belgian film ever received this honour.

Donation to the King Baudouin Foundation

In late 2019, Servais donated a large selection of drawings, backgrounds and animation cels (colourised illustrations on transparent sheets of cellulose acetate, used to produce cartoons) to the King Baudouin Foundation, to preserve his archive and make it available to a wider audience. The resulting collection contains more than 200 pieces with a link to the filmmaker’s oeuvre, from graphic work and animation cels to photographs and posters. Teaching the younger generation and passing on his knowledge has always been important to Servais, who founded Europe’s first-ever Animated Film programme at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent (modern-day KASK). With his donation to the Foundation, the filmmaker hopes to perpetually inspire and teach future generations.

Travelling exhibition

The exhibition at the BELvue museum and its associated publication are an opening initiative by the King Baudouin Foundation to make the heritage and graphic oeuvre of this living legend of the silver screen accessible to the public. The exhibition, which will later travel to several international venues, was curated by François Schuiten – one of Belgium’s most renowned cartoonists and Servais’ right-hand man during the making of Taxandria (1994). As Schuiten was in charge of Taxandria’s graphic concept and backgrounds, he understands the world of the film and Raoul Servais’ wider oeuvre like no other.

‘Raoul Servais. A world between magic and realism’ sheds light on Servais as an individual and his relationship to the city of Ostend; the man’s artistic process and search for new techniques; his love for the arts, surrealism and the work of Paul Delvaux; and the themes upon which his films have focused. The opening of the exhibition will coincide with the release of a new short film by Servais, created in collaboration with Rudy Pinceel. Visitors to the BELvue will be treated to a sneak preview of preparatory sketches and scenes from this latest film, Der lange Kerl.

This exhibition is a joint project with the Raoul Servais Collection, the Raoul Servais Association and CINEMATEK, and will be accompanied by a publication. A virtual tour will allow for socially distanced online visits.

Practical info:

BELvue museum
Place des Palais 7, 1000 Brussels
Free entry
From 24 September 2021 to 6 March 2022
The information in the exhibition will be displayed in Dutch, French and English. The free audio guide, which can be downloaded online, and the virtual tour will also be available in these three languages.
Guided tours can be arranged for groups and schools.