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The Xavier Hufkens gallery is the eponymous contemporary art gallery of owner Xavier Hufkens (b. 1965). Located at 6 rue St-Georges and 107 rue St-Georges in Brussels, the gallery represents an international roster of some thirty emerging, mid-career and established artists, as well as a number of estates.
The origins of the gallery date back to 1987, when Xavier Hufkens opened his first gallery on the Parvis de Saint-Gilles in Brussels. Hufkens has stated that his desire to run an art gallery dates back to his teenage years. During the late 1980s, Franz Erhard Walther showed with Hufkens, as did British sculptor Antony Gormley, whom the gallery continues to represent.
The gallery relocated to a town house in the Brussels district of Ixelles in 1992. Now home to a number of established and upcoming art galleries, the area was almost exclusively residential in the early 1990s. The move was not an obvious one at the time: the Belgian art world still revolved around Antwerp, while the Brussels galleries tended to be based in the up-and-coming districts around the canals or along the fashionable Antoine Dansaertstraat. Belgian architects Paul Robbrecht and Hilde Daem (Robbrecht & Daem), working in partnership with Marie-José Van Hee (MJoseVanHee Architecten), were responsible for the conversion of the house into an art gallery. Landscape architect Jacques Wirtz designed the garden, which is often used to display sculpture. Félix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) held his first exhibition in Europe with Xavier Hufkens in 1991. Four years later, Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) showed with the gallery – an exhibition that would lead to a fifteen-year collaboration. The estate is still affiliated with the gallery. The gallery’s long-standing relationship with Belgian artist Thierry De Cordier also dates back to the 1990s.
Hufkens expanded the gallery further by annexing the adjacent property in 1997. British-born Thomas Houseago showed with Hufkens for the first time a year later, a debut that would mark the start of an on-going collaboration. This expanded exhibition programme coincided with the additional representation of a number of established artists from Belgium and abroad, including Richard Artschwager, Thierry De Cordier and Jan Vercruysse.
A number of new artists have joined the gallery since the turn of the millennium, including Sterling Ruby, David Altmejd, Jack Pierson and Cris Brodahl. This period of the gallery's history is also defined by a number of landmark exhibitions. In 2000, Xavier Hufkens presented Robert Ryman's first solo exhibition in Belgium since the 1970s. George Condo had his first solo exhibition in Belgium with the gallery in 2006.
2010 and current activity
In recent years the gallery has continued to expand its roster with artists such as Danh Vo, Jacob Kassay, Harold Ancart and Walter Swennen. As a response to a growing desire for greater flexibility in terms of programming, Xavier Hufkens opened a new 300 sq. metre space in 2013 at 107 rue St-Georges. Based in a commercial shopping centre dating back to the mid-1970s, the space was converted into to a gallery by Swiss architect Harry Gugger. A partner of Herzog and De Meuron until 2009, Gugger was one of the architects responsible for the conversion of Tate Modern, London. The gallery works actively with museums and public institutions, particularly in the field of exhibitions.
His father Guy Hufkens is a Belgian industrial. He was given hereditary nobility in 2009 with the personal title of knight. In 2013 his two sons were also made knights, formerly having only the title of jonkheer. In 2015 his father got extension of the title of baron to him and all his descendants which made Xavier a baron as well.
- Dubois, M. (1993), 'Een galerie-woning; Paul Robbrecht en Hilde Daem: verbouwing galerie Hufkens / Art Gallery and dwelling’, Archis, no. 2, Feb. pp.56–57; Bekaert, G. (1996), Hedendaagse architectuur in België, Tielt: Lannoo; Swimberghe, P. (1998), Brussels: The Art of Living, New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang;
- Etat present de la noblesse belge (2015), p. 151.