What's on: Vanitas, abstract art and a total eclipse


Contemplate your mortality in Gaasbeek Castle, get abstract in Ostend, and for one night only watch cosmic shadow play in the skies all over Flanders

Exquisite Corpses

Vanitas in art reminds us that life is short and death is certain, but under the lens of Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf it is also very elegant. His starting point for Exquisite Corpses is a painting by Louis Gallait, showing courtiers paying tribute to the dead counts of Egmont and Horne. As well as restaging the scene, Olaf created portraits of the courtiers, styled by some of the biggest names in Belgian fashion.

Finally, there is a still life (pictured) constructed around the lead box that contains the Count of Egmont's heart. The Exquisite Corpses series was commissioned in 2012 by Gaasbeek Castle, once Egmont's home, and has been revived this summer for the castle's year of vanitas. Until 26 August, Gaasbeek Castle, Kasteelstraat 40, Lennik (Flemish Brabant)

Architecture of Images During the Interwar Years

Changing the world with circles, squares and lines may seem naive today, but many avant-garde artists working between the wars were convinced it was possible. A new exhibition at Mu.ZEE in Ostend takes three of them -- the Belgians Pierre-Louis Flouquet and Jos Léonard, together with the Hungarian Lajos Kassák -- and explores how their abstract and constructivist ideas were expressed in graphic design, typography and publishing. Also check out the museum's new wing devoted to the work of veteran animator (and Ostend native) Raoul Servais, which displays a large selection of original documents, drawings and films. Until 4 November; Mu.ZEE, Romestraat 11. Ostend

Total eclipse of the moon

One of the year's most impressive shows is free and out of doors: the total eclipse of the moon on the night of 27-28 July. The eclipse will already be underway at moonrise, and reaches its fullest extent around 22.20. It then trails off into a partial eclipse that will end after midnight. Most Flemish observatories and star-gazing associations have events planned. Antwerp's Urania observatory is particularly busy, opening its telescopes to the public on the evening and organising a viewing on the roof terrace of the MAS museum. Unfortunately its eclipse-watching boat cruises on the Scheldt are already fully booked. Also eye-catching is the Kattevennen-Cosmodrome in Genk, which is organising a viewing from the Waterschei spoil tip.