Flanders ‘hacks’ world famous painting to celebrate true love

The Flemish Masters show the world the diversity of true love

The Belgian region of Flanders welcomes people from every persuasion, colour and form, with open arms, irrespective of who they may fall in love with. To relay this message the world over, VISITFLANDERS has replaced the outer panels of theThe Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ masterpiece, also known as the Ghent Altarpiece, with photos of contemporary couples. In the original by the Van Eyck brothers, the depiction of Adam and Eve, have flanked various religious scenes since 1432. To demonstrate the fact that today, the definition of a couple, doesn’t always comply with former conventionality, the image has been replaced with modern day versions of what we now understand to be normal. VISITFLANDERS, believes that its “modern day” edit will convey a message of inclusion and diversity throughout Flanders.

  • “The message and campaign highlight our unique artistic heritage and the inclusive nature of Flanders,” says VISITFLANDERS. “Here in Flanders, we must continue to fight for diversity and inclusion.”
  • Everyone can share this message through www.adorationoftruelove.com.

“The idea of linking ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ to the adoration of true love in all its forms, is an obvious one. Truth was central to this work, as is love,” said Peter De Wilde, CEO of VISITFLANDERS“Today, it's easy to be like Adam and Eve if you colour 'inside the lines'. The Van Eyck brothers were all about drawing new lines and doing things their own way. For the many couples, that don’t fit the norm and are met with hostility through both words and deeds, we were persuaded to “hack” the Ghent Altarpiece. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate our dedication to diversity by highlighting our unique artistic heritage and promoting Flanders as a cultural and inclusive tourist destination. 

Everyone who wants to express their adoration for ‘true love’ can participate. A short video has been made for the ‘hack’. Visitors to the site can share the video and optionally include their own photo. If they upload a photo, they'll feature in the video's intro. The video can be personalised on www.adorationoftruelove.com

‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ is one of the most influential religious paintings in the world and the most frequently stolen artwork of all time. The monumental ‘Ghent Altarpiece’ was painted on oak panels, covered with a mixture of chalk and animal glue. The figures were painted by applying countless layers of oil paint. The delicate application and translucent paint creates an extra dimension: the painting seems to glow from within. Using these techniques, the Van Eyck brothers permanently changed the way we look at art. Their optical method of painting resulted in art that was so lifelike, it was uncanny. Adam and Eve, who flank the ‘Ghent Altarpiece’, are the silent witnesses to this. Their overwhelming nakedness caused outrage among the elite, and for this reason, the outer panels were removed prior to a visit from Joseph II in 1781. Frederick William III of Prussia was similarly disapproving of the nude figures. In 1816, he purchased the outer panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, with the exception of Adam and Eve. In the 19th century, Viktor Lagye went one step further. He reproduced the original side panels with Adam and Eve, painting them not in the nude, but modestly attired.

True love needs to be supported – and that's also the case in Flanders. As long as couples conform to the example set by Adam and Eve, we accept them. But many modern couples do not fit the biblical mould. These expressions of true love are not always understood. Recent facts and figures demonstrate this, given that

  • Hate crimes against LGBTQ people have been on a slight rise over the past three years, according to FBI data. While most hate crimes in the U.S. are motivated by bias toward race and religion, the number of crimes based on sexual orientation rose each year from 2014 to 2017, when 1,130 incidents were reported. Of those crimes, a majority targeted gay men.
  • In the United States this year, at least 18 transgender people — most of them transgender women of color — have been killed in a wave of violence that the American Medical Association has declared an “epidemic.” 
  • Same-sex couples applying for a mortgage face more rejection and higher rates, a study says



About Visit Flanders

About the Flemish Masters. For over 250 years, from the 15th  to long into the 17th century, Flanders was a figurehead for fine arts in Western Europe and the source of inspiration for well-known art movements of the time, such as the Flemish primitives, the Renaissance and the Baroque. Artists were known for their craftsmanship, creativity and technical innovations and they transformed the prosperous and urbanised Flanders into one of the most refined cultural regions with their impressive artistic and architectural creations. www.flemishmasters.com

About the Van Eyck brothers, masters of realism.  Hubert van Eyck painted part of the Ghent Altarpiece, but wasn't able to finish it. His younger brother, Jan, an absolute master painter, completed the magnificent work after Hubert's death. Jan van Eyck made a huge contribution to the revolution in painting that occurred in the Low Countries. He is one of the most important representatives of the Flemish Masters. Van Eyck is famous for his meticulous, realistic portraits and was one of the first Flemish artists to sign many of his works. 

About 2020, the Van Eyck year. In 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent will honour Jan van Eyck with the exhibition, ‘Van Eyck. An optical revolution’. Only around twenty of his works still exist worldwide. A substantial proportion of them will be travelling to Ghent, where they will be exhibited beside works by his most talented contemporaries in a rare and unique opportunity. In 2020, Van Eyck will entice the five senses in Ghent. Ghent's visual arts, theatre, dance, design, fashion, cuisine, music and shops will bask in the atmosphere of Van Eyck and his exquisite masterpieces. www.omgvaneyckwashere.be

About Ghent, the home of Van Eyck's masterpiece. The lively city of Ghent is certainly worth a visit. Idiosyncratic Ghent is full of history and offers a cultural cocktail filled to the brim with trendy and modern urban life. Ghent is a city for bonvivants, with a permissive, laid-back atmosphere; a city with a human scale. The friendly, welcoming residents of Ghent know how to live well. During your city trip, don't miss the opportunity to admire the world famous masterpiece, the Ghent Altarpiece, by the Van Eyck brothers.  

About VISITFLANDERS – an agency of the government of Flanders – it is an official tourism organisation responsible for tourism in Flanders. This organisation is dedicated to the sustainable development and promotion of domestic and foreign tourism in Flanders, and aims to ensure increased economic return, employment and well-being (for the residents of Flanders). www.visitflanders.com