Appreciating France and Belgium is easy. There are the dinners, the relatively inexpensive wines, the café lifestyle. And there are the unexpected discoveries, usually in small towns which scrupulously watch over small museums. Some of them are boring, others revelatory.
Among the revelatory . . . The Folon Foundation in La Hulpe, a rather drab town about 20 minutes south of Brussels. The Folon Foundation is dedicated to the artist Jean-Michel Folon who died recently in Monaco. Chances are many of you will have seen his magazine covers for Time, Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker, and those old enough his retrospective at MOMA in the 1990s.
Only after we walked into the renovated farm house on the grounds of the stately Chateau de la Hupe that is home to the foundation did I vaguely remember having seen Folon's work before. It is stunning in its simplicity, quietness and compassionate devotion to the essential humanness of people in a difficult world. Folon was committed to peace and created a number of well-know images featuring doves, one with a missile in its beak I believe.
We had the gallery to ourselves that day, which is the best way to appreciate Folon's art.