Permeke’s work resonates with the avant-garde movements that spread in Europe before, during and after World War I. The monumental Oostendse Vrouwen (Women of Ostend) (1920) perfectly illustrates the diverse influences which premeate Permeke’s art. Inspired by European and Parisian avant-garde circles from the 1910s and 1920s, the faces of these four well-dressed women reveal his interest in African art. Permeke owned several African artworks which he kept in his studio. Similarly, his bodies and faces possess a type of sculptural angularity which recalls Modigliani’s female figures.
In this monumental composition, the protagonists represented in close frames acquire an archetypal dimension and a universal meaning. In manner which recalls most of his other compositions, the artist uses simple daily scenes to evoke humanity in general and create his particular form of timeless artworks.
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