Van Hoeydonck graduated in History of Art and Archaeology in his hometown of Antwerp, Belgium. Rooted in the period of Pop-Art, Op-art and Nouveau Realisme, he managed to devise a completely new oeuvre with his Space-Art. Throughout his career, Van Hoeydonck stood aside dominating styles and movements, and in over 50 years of activity, the concern of manhood and its interaction with the space has been central to his work.
During the 1950’s Van Hoeydonck's worked as a geometrical abstractionist. Colour was high on his agenda, and collages from the period often go into three dimensions. From this concretely constructed abstraction of reality, Van Hoeydonck moved to an extreme simplification in his white toy-reliefs of 1955-56. Movement and light-intervention gradually led him from spatial sensibility to space art during the early 1960s.
His most important works of the 1960s include the series Cities of the future, Spacescapes and White Planets (Planetscapes), which contained works that were in consonance with the space conquering race mood, which dominated the world at that time. Since an early age, Van Hoeydonck has harboured a particular interest in the moon and outer space. He started making unpopulated planets in 1959 and went on to make Constellations, Nebulae and Stardust in different shapes and out of different materials. By firing synthetic paint onto the panel, and letting the paint create its own spontaneous chemical reactions, Van Hoeydonck wished to imitate the effect of a meteor crashing into planet. His non-brush technique ranks amongst the revolutionary ZERO techniques of the time such as slashing canvas (Fontana), punctuating (Bonalumi, Piene and Uecker) and burning (Aubertin).
As the public failed to understand these exceptional works, Van Hoeydonck reacted with his series of so-called Boîtes à monocles, where boxes meant for precious objects, were filled with spectacle glasses - a provocative and humoured reference to the ‘blindness’ of people. During the period 1960-1962, Van Hoeydonck continued to with the found object. Following the ‘Boîtes à Monocles’, he fabricated ‘Bonshommes’ out of ready-mades, often found in the port of Antwerp. These robot-like creatures, consisting of wooden planks and metal objects, are pre-figurations of his later ‘Homo Spatiens’ and are contemporary to the British sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi’s humanoid creatures in bronze.
Although Van Hoeydonck was never officially a member of the Zero group, founded in Dusseldorf in 1957, he was always invited to exhibit at the group’s exhibitions in Germany and in Holland. In 1958, Van Hoeydonck was a co-founder of the G58 group who exhibited their works at the Hessenhuis, Antwerp. Van Hoeydonck was also the driving force behind the historic exhibition ‘Vision in Motion, Motion in Vision’ in 1959, which united the artists Yves Klein, Heinz Mack, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Soto and Van Hoeydonck. By the summer of 1962, Van Hoeydonck was a guest of honor at the XXXI Venice Biennale.
Owing to his interest in space, he was commissioned to produce the only sculpture ever to be placed on the moon. In 1971 the crew of Apollo 15 placed Van Hoeydonck’s Fallen Astronaut on the moon surface, an opportunity granted to the artist that still remains unique today.
Van Hoeydonck’s work was always far ahead of its time. In 1990 Whitford Fine Art held a ground-breaking one-man show of Van Hoeydonck’s 1950’s work, but it is only today that Van Hoeydonck has finally claimed his place in Art History following the well received retrospective show at the Felix Art Museum in Drogenbos, Brussels in 2011.
Public collections include
Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna, Rome
Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Stedelijk Museum, Ostende
Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
VAN DEN BUSSCHE, Willy and Paul VAN HOEYDONCK. Paul Van Hoeydonck Retrospectief. Exhibition catalogue, Provinciaal Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, 1996
VAN DEN BUSSCHE, Willy. Paul Van Hoeydonck. Lannoo, Belgium, 1980
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2011, Paul Van Hoeydonck: The Abstract Works, FeliXart Museum, Brussels, Belgium
1995, PMMK, Ostend
1994, Interior Art Gallery, Brugse Hallen, Bruges
1993, Recent Sculptures, Whitford Fine Art, London; Lineart, Ghent
1991, Galerie De Keizer, Antwerp; Lineart, Ghent; Interior Art Gallery, Brugse Hallen, Bruges; Galerie Arenberg, Antwerp; Galerie Jaski, Amsterdam; Paul Van Hoeydonck: Bonshommes et Boites à Monocles
1990, Paul Van Hoeydonck: Paintings and Collages 1955-1959, Whitford Fine Art, London and Lineart Ghent. Abbaye des Cordeliers, Chateauroux; Planets on Jantar Mantar Homage to the Jaipur Observatory, Galerie Forum, Ostend; Barcelona International Art Forum, Barcelona; Sculpture Groups, Ghent
1989, PMMK, Ghent; Lineart, Ghent; Galerie Forum, Ostend
1987, Galerie Harmagedon, Kotrijk
1986, Alden Biezen Space Art in collaboration with the European Spaceprogram, Bilzen; Oostende Hallen Space ‘86, Ostend; Galerie Guy Pieters, Knokkle
1985, Techno Galerie, Brussels; Jakob Smits Museum, Mol
1984, Festival van Vlaanderen, Ghent; Kunstforum, Schelderode; Gallery Stux, Boston; Zeis Observatorium, Amsterdam; Cultureel Centrum, St. Truiden
1983, Neue Galerie Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen; Casino, Knokkle; Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York
1982, BP Building, Antwerp; Galerie De Wever, Wakken; De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam
1981, Galerie Marnix, Geel; Galerie BP, Brussel
1980, Stedelijk Prentenkabinet, Antwerp ; Galerie De Vuyst, Lokeren
1979, Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York; Galerij Sfinx, Antwerp ; Galerij Maeyaert, Ostend; Kunstforum, Schelderode
1978, Buchmann Art Gallery, Kapellen - Antwerp; Interior Art Gallery, Bruges; Koningin Fabioladorp, Deurne; Galerij De Vuyst, Lokeren
1977, Konsthall, Malmö
1976, De Warande, Turnhout; Galerij Van Hoeywegen, St. Kwintens - Lennik; Galerij Hüsstege, Amsterdam; Noordbrabants Museum, ‘s Hertogenbosch; Gemeentehuismuseum Arnhem; American Library, Brussels
1975, Galerij Foncke, Ghent
1974, Kunstmarkt, Basel; Studio Modern Art, Milano; Galerij Isy Brachot, Brussels; Galerie Bonnier, Genève
1973, Rotonda della Besan, Milano; Galerie Bonnier, Genève; Talbot Rice Art Center, Edinburgh; Annely Juda Gallery, London, Arte Duchamp, Cagliari; Studio Modern Art, Milano
1972, Galerij F. Lanzenberg, Brussels; Galerij Koncke, Ghent; Galleria Einaudi; Waddell Gallery, New York; Galerij Multi-Art, Antwerp; Galerij Philippe Chabeau, Brussels, Clark Polak’s Gallery, Los Angeles.
1971, Waddell Gallery, New York; Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm; Leids Academiegebouw, Leiden
1970, Palacio National de Bellas Artes, Mexico City; Galerij Foncke, Bruges; Galerij Fonke, Ghent; Galerie Bonnier, Genève; Galerie Engelberts, Genève; Galerie Rive Gauche, Brussels; Second annuel international Moonwalk Festival, Cape Kennedy
1969, Contemporary Art Museum, Chicago ; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston ; Kunstverein, Freiburg ; Galerij Withofs, Brussels ; Waddell Gallery, New York, Galerij Foncke, Ghent ; National Gallery of Art, Washington
1968, Galerij Krikhaar, Amsterdam; Galerie Bonnier, Lausanne; Belgisches Haus, Köln, International Monetary Fund, Washington, Galerie Mullet, Stuttgart
1967, Waddell Gallery, New York; Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels; Galerij
Foncke, Ghent; Galerij Contact, Antwerp
1966, Galerij Krikhaar, Amsterdam; Galerie Cogéime, Brussels
1965, Waddell Gallery, New York; Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm; Galerie Theelen, Essen; Galerie der Spiegel, Köln
1964, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris; Robert Elkon Gallery, New York; Galleria Apollinaire, Milano; Galleria del Leone, Venezia; Galerie Bonnier, Lausanne; Museum of Fine Arts, Stamford; Galerie Cogiene, Brussels
1963, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels; AP.I.A.W., Liège
1962, Galerie Zodiaque, Brussels; Robert Elkon Gallery, New York
1961, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris; Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels ; Galerij Van der Borght, Brussels ; Galerie Sistina, Sao Paulo; Galerie Bernard, Grenchen
1961/60, The Collection of Adrian Mibus at Connaught Brown Gallery, London
1960, Le cercle de l’art modern ‘Ex Libris’, Ukkel
1959, Hessenhuis, Antwerp
1958, Galerij Accent, Antwerp
1957, Galerie St. Laurent, Brussels
1956, Galerie St. Laurent, Brussels; Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels
1955, La Galerie Dutilleul, Brussels
1954, Galerie Cheval de Verre, Brussels; C.A.W., Antwerp
1953, Galerij Unicum, Bruges
1952, Galerij Buyle, Antwerp ; Galerij Unicum, Bruges