See art and furniture in your home during Knokke’s virtual art fair


Art Nocturne Knocke uses cutting-edge technology and augmented reality for its first fully digital fair

World premiere

The 45th edition of Art Nocturne Knocke is one of the highlights of the summer season. Amid concerns over the ongoing Covid crisis, however, the fair is going digital.

But the annual glitzy seaside gathering continues its pioneering reputation in being the first art fair ever to offer artworks for sale on an online platform as well as featuring a direct buyers experience.

As Belgium’s sole off-season art fair – one that attracts curious onlookers as much as serious collectors – Art Nocturne Knocke had been planned as both a live and virtual experience. But with the latest announcements of coronavirus restrictions, explains organiser Alexander Tuteleers, “we are focusing on the online event with the hope of returning with the physical event next year.”

Visitors to the online version, which runs from 8 to 16 August, will be able to access the site for free to view art and objects. They can find out information about works and artists, as well as buy works. “You can see the works in 2D and 3D in the space, but also in augmented reality via an app where people can visualise the art works in their own houses,” says Tuteleers. “This is a world premiere.”

©Galerie Lelouch

In the classic section of the fair, international galleries present a selection of paintings in various styles alongside mixed material sculptures, ceramics and photography. Antique, modern and contemporary furniture, objects and jewellery round off the fair’s colourful and stylish programme.

For the second year running, the fair stages a Discoveries Pavilion where the focus is firmly on the individual artist rather the gallery. “It shows the real diversity of up-and-coming artists, photographers, ceramicists, glassware designers, sculptors and painters,” explains Tuteleers. “It’s like a stage where emerging talents show themselves to galleries and collectors.”

The discovery artists come from both Belgium and abroad. Home-grown talent includes hyperrealist sculptor Ann Dierckx, contemporary artist Christian De Wulf, animalier sculptor Dirk Santens, digital artist Jeroen Beirens and ceramist Patrick Van Craenenbroeck.

The fair and the online platform are independent, so we are really free to make a selection based on quality

- Alexander Tuteleers

Traditionally an evening event – allowing visitors to bathe in the pleasures of the upscale seaside resort of Knokke-Heist – Art Nocturne usually attracts some 10,000 visitors. It has evolved from its origins as an antique fair to its current prominent position in the Belgian and international art scene, reputed for its diversity, quality and catalogue of works that range in price from €200 to €2 million.

“Both the fair and the online platform are independent, no art dealers or sponsors are involved, so we are really free to make a selection based on quality,” adds Tuteleers. “The offer is always exciting, international and very diverse.”

South America is well represented with Galeria de las Misiones from Uruguay deliberately positioned next to a showing of contemporary Belgian art. “We often try to include Latin American art because it’s not so well known.”

©Frederik Buyckx

Tuteleers is also proud to present art from Mongolia for the first time in the fair’s history. “One of the galleries is dedicated to work by Mongolian artists, who are very interesting and of an entirely different culture. It feels a bit like Asian art, but they have a craftmanship that is really remarkable.”

Visitors to Flanders’ coastal art capital can nevertheless feast their eyes on the fair’s annual seasonal outdoor exhibition Sculpture Link. This year’s edition features a series of large-scale powerful works crafted from steel by Brussels landscape architect Antoine Leclercq.

The two-month installation tour comes to a close on 16 August. Some of Leclercq’s smaller works are also on show at the online fair.

While visitors to Art Nocturne Knocke typically originate from Belgium and its neighbouring countries, the first virtual edition may well attract a wider audience. “From anywhere in the world everyone can discover the works,” says Tuteleers.

Photos courtesy Art Nocturne Knocke