jan fabre biography




Jan Fabre was born on 14 December 1958.

He studied window dressing at the Municipal Institute of Decorative Arts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.

In 1977 he takes the place of the dummy in the showroom as a 'performer' (Window performance). In 1978, he rechristens the street where he lives in "Jan Fabre street" and made a plaque to his house 'Here works and lives Jan Fabre', as a counterpart tot the plaque on the house in the same street were Vincent Van Gogh  stayed. In 1978, he makes drawings with his own blood in the solo performance 'My body, my blood, my landscape'. During his 'Money Performance' (1980) he burns the money of the ticket sales and writes the word ‘ART’ with the ashes. In 2004 he performs 'Virgin/Warriar' with Marina Abromović , and 'Lancelot ',

Meanwhile, Jan Hoet introduces him in New York, where he gives lectures and performances.

From 1980 onwards, he begins a career as stage director: Theater geschreven met een K is een kater (1980). In 1982, he scored an international breakthrought with ‘Het is theater zoals te verwachten en te voorzien was’. In 1984, ‘De Macht der Theaterlijke Dwaasheden’ is performed on the Venice Biennial. Further productions are: Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas (danssecties, 1987), Prometheus Landschaft (1988), Das Interview das stirbt... (1989, Der Palast um vier Uhr morgens..., A.G. (1989), Die Reinkarnation Gottes (1989), Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas (1990), The Sound of one hand clapping (1990), Sweet Temptations (1991), Zij was en zij is, zelfs (1991), Wie spreekt mijn gedachte ... (1992), Silent Screams, Difficult Dreams (1992), Vervalsing zoals ze is, onvervalst (1992), Da un’altra faccia del tempo (1993), Quando la terra si rimette in movimento (1995), Drie Danssolo’s (1995), Een doodnormale vrouw (1995), Universal Copyrights 1 & 9 (1995), De keizer van het verlies (1996), The very seat of honour (1997), Lichaampje, Lichaampje aan de wand (1997), Glowing Icons (1997), The Pick-wick-man (1997), Ik ben jaloers op elke zee..(1997), The fin comes a little bit earlier this siècle (But business as usual)(1998), Het nut van de nacht (1999), As long as the world needs a warrior’s soul (2000), My movements are alone like streetdogs 2000), Je suis Sang (conte de fées médiéval) (2001), Het zwanenmeer (2002), Parrots & guinea pigs (2002), Je suis sang (2003), Angel of death (2003), Elle était et elle est, meme (2004), Etant donnés (2004), Quando L'Uomo principale è una donna (2004), 'De keizer van het verlies' en 'The King of Plagiarism' (2005), 'Histoire des Larmes' (2005), 'Requiem für eine Metamorphose' (2007), I am a mistake, (2007), 'The Orgy of tolerance' (2008), 'Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day' (2008), Orgy of tolerance (2009), The Servant of Beauty (2010), Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day (2010), Preparatio Mortis (2010), Prometheus–Landscape II (2011), Drugs kept me alive (2012), (herneming van:) Het is theater zoals te verwachten en te voorzien was (2012-1982), (herneming van:) De macht der theaterlijke dwaasheden (2012-1984), Tragedy of a Friendship (2013), Mount Olympus: To Glorify the Cult of Tragedy (2015).

Fabre is also a visual artists. He is famous for his 'abstract' and figuratieve ballpoint pen drawings. In 2011, Fabre had them dialogue with the work of Pieter Brueghel in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Wien.

Jan Fabre is also a sculptor. The series begins with sculptures with thumbtacks and nails: 'Me, dreaming' (1999), 'Dependens', 'Ascendens' (1979-2003). Form the nineties onwards, he begins to work with beetles: 'The grave of the unknown computer (1994), 'Zelfportret als Joker' (1997). From 1998 onwards, he has his concepts cast in bronze: 'The man who measures the clouds' (1998), 'The man who gives fire' (1999), "Searching for Utopia" (2003), 'Totem' (2004) in Louvain,'The man who laughs and weeps' (2005), 'Astronaut die de zee dirigeert' (2006), 'The man who writes on water' (2006). Fabre enters his golden period with creations like 'Sanguis sum'(2001) and 'Vermis dorsualis & Devils Masks' (2002). There are also wax sculptures like: 'I let myself drain' (2006) and 'I spit on my own tomb' (2007) recycled in the Louvre as 'Self portrait as the biggest worm on earth' (2008), ''To the god of insomnia' (2008), and 'The man who bears the cross' (2014). From 2006 onwards he works with stuffed animals 'Het carnaval van de dode straathonden' (2006) 'The messengers of death decapitated' (2006). He also has works executed in Murano glass, like 'Schijtende ratten van de lucht en vredesduiven' (2008) or in marble (Pietà, 2011) 

Jan Fabre has also his merits as a decorator. In 1990 he had the 'Tivoli' bail-pointed, in 2000 the pillars of the ‘Aula’ of the University in Ghent hammed, and in 2003 the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Brussels beetled "Heaven of Delight".

Jan Fabre is also the author of films like 'The fight' (1979), 'Two worms' (1979), 'Suicide' (1980), The Bag (1980), 'The Meeting /Vstrecha' (1997) with Ilya Kabakov, 'The problem' (2001) with Dietmar Kamper and Peter Sloterdijk, culminating in the installation 'The Angel of Death' (2003).

Fabre is not only an artist is many disciplines, he is also a philosopher. In 1999, he publishes the 'multidisciplinary' magazine Janus. In 'The Problem' (2001) he engages in a thorough dialogue with sociologist-anthropologist Dietmar Kamper and the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk.

Jan Fabre was featured on international shows like:

Venice Biennial(1984, 1990 en 2003)
Documenta Kassel (1987 en 1992)
Sao Paolo Biennial (1991)
Lyon Biennial (2000)
Valencia Biennial (2001)
Istanbul Biennial (1992 en 2001).

Jan Fabre 'in dialogue' with the old masters:

Louvre Paris (2008) (after Guy Pieters paid a large amount of euros)
Kröller-Müller (2011)
Museum of Old and New in Tasmania Australia (2009).
Saint Petersburg State Hermitage Museum Saint Petersburg (planned in 2016).
The city of Firenze ('Spiritual Guards', 2016)

Awards in the art world:

In 1992:  "Prijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap voor Beeldende Kunst".
In 1994: 'artist in residence' in 'De Singel' in Antwerp.
In 2005: 'associated artist' in the Festival d'Avignon,
2008: Premio Pino Pascali from the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Polignano a Mare in Bari.
2009: Prix du Jury from the Syndicat de la Critique Professionnelle for his 'Orgy of tolerance'
2009: International Art Award The Cristobal Gabarron Foundation, Valladolid, for his work as a visual artist.

Fabre is also honored by the catheder, the crown, and the church:

In 2004 he is commisioned 'Totem' on occasion of the575th anniversary of the Catholic University of Louvain..
In 2004 he becomes Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown.
In 2007 he becomes Commandeur in the Order of Leopold II.
In 2009 he receives a honorary doctorate from the University of Antwerp.
In 2015 his 'Man who bears the cross' is erected in front of Rubens' Descent of the cross in the Antwerp cathedral.

Invited to curate the annual Athens & Epidaurus (International) Festival for the 2016 – 2019 period, Jan Fabre resigned in 2016 as a result of synchronized attack by political parties (including SYRIZA), mass media, and Greek artists caused by is decision to pay a tribute to Belgian artists.

Jan Fabre is no family of the French entomologist.

Stefan Beyst.

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