Willy Kessels, Belgian Modernist

Willy Kessels is without any doubt the most important Belgian Modernist. His work is internationally recognized. The results of the most important auctions in Paris, London and New York prove it.



The AnamorFose collection contains nudes, still lives, photomontages and books made by Willy Kessels between 1930 and 1950.

Willy Kessels was born in Dendermonde, Belgium, in January 1898. After completing the Ecole des Beaux Arts of Gent, he went to Brussels and during the 1920s worked there as a sculptor and architectural draftsman.

He met Le Corbusier in 1928. He began his photographic career in 1929, considering this as a logical next step to his previous work. He saw in photography a modern means of representing the world. Kessels was very active during the 1920's and 30's, contracting to photograph industrial installations and advertising campaigns.

His photo-montages, aerial views, angles and his work with light, illustrate the modern tendency of Belgian photography, which remained heavily influenced by Pictorialism. He is perhaps best known though for his nudes.

Kessels died in 1974.


Andries, Pool & Gonzales, François 1998 Willy Kessels (Paris:Trans Photographic Press)

Avermaete, Roger & Kessels, Willy 1932 Synthèse d’Anvers (Bruxelles: Ed. l’Eglantine)

De Naeyer, Christine 1996 Willy Kessels (Charleroi: Musée de la Photographie)

Guislain, Albert & Kessels, Willy 1930 Découverte de Bruxelles (Bruxelles: Ed. l’Eglantine)

Leplus, Françoise & Paviot, Alain 1990 Willy Kessels Photographies (Paris: Galerie A. Paviot)

Samoy, Albert 1974 Kunstfotograaf Willy Kessels, een levensschets (Anon publisher)

Willy Kessels, photographe. Amnesie 1997 (Bruxelles: Palais des Beaux-Arts)

Willy Kessels (1898-1974) Photographe au pays de Verhaeren 1988 (Sint-Amands: Provinciaal Museum Emile Verhaeren)

collections (selection)

Fotomuseum, Antwerp, Belgium

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, USA

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