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The landscape around the river Leie has been an inspiration to artists in particular from the last quarter of the 19th century. The uncomplicated peasant’s life attracted many artists. In the village the artist sought elements the big city could no longer provide: rest, silence and authenticity. In Ghent artists like Karel and Gustave van de Woestyne, Jules de Praetere, George Minne and Valerius de Saedeleer oppose against the ruling art of the bourgeoisie and the industrial development. Around 1900 the Leie region attracted a group of symbolist artists, which settled in Sint-Martens-Latem and later would be known as the First Latem Group. It consisted of the painters Valerius de Saedeleer and Gustave van de Woestyne, the sculptor George Minne and the poet Karel van de Woestijne. Apart from an inner peace they not only find but also create, with the support of Albijn Van den Abeele, a climate of spiritualisation and artistic depth in the village.

About 1905 a Second Latem Group came into being: Gustave De Smet, Frits Van den Berghe and Constant Permeke then worked in an impressionist style which changed into a very special expressionist one during De Smet’s and Van den Berghe’s stay in the Netherlands and Permeke’s stay in England during World War I. The artist purifies the appearance, thus the fact of landscape, figure and object by an inner harmony. Returning home these three painters became the leaders of the Flemish expressionism. Around 1925 there is a ‘classic’ moment in the Flemish expressionism for a while. At this moment we also find striking coherence in terms of the form and content in the works of these artists.

The Artists' Colony

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Agnes Lannoo-Van Wanseele
Dorp 1
9830 Sint-Martens-Latem
+32(0)9 282 17 00

Site Plan Sint-Martens-Latem