The Georges Giroux art gallery – founded in Brussels in 1912 – was one of the focal points of art and culture in Belgium in the 20th century. Giroux, a native Frenchman, followed the traditions of renowned galleries in Paris such as Durand-Ruel and Bernheimer. Like his French counterparts he organised exhibitions all around the year featuring both national as well as foreign artists. A unique way to promote art in Belgium !
Giroux was one of the early supporters of contemporary Belgian artists. His close friend, the author Jules Elslander, introduced him to the artistic circles of Brussels. By visiting the ateliers of local painters and sculptors Giroux laid the foundation for his collection and set the ground for his collaboration with promising artists such as Rik Wouters. By organising individual as well as group exhibitions, the Galerie Georges Giroux quickly became an important milestone in the career of the so-called Fauvistes Brabancons.
But Giroux was also a frontrunner in representing international modern art movements. He introduced artistic currents which were never seen before in the Belgian capital. Already in May 1912 he exhibited works of the notorious Italian Futurists. In the same year his gallery featured paintings of the Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky whose works were a clear demonstration of his revolutionary shift towards abstraction. The conservative art press as well as the public of Brussels were shocked. The leading Belgian newspapers refused to publish articles about the gallery.
While some exhibitions and shows in the Galerie Georges Giroux were clearly ahead of its time, more traditional art deriving from Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism also found its place in the Gallery’s repertoire. This was mainly due to economic reasons. In order to keep the gallery running Giroux had to sell works of widely accepted artists.
Besides his passion for art Giroux was a smart businessman influencing many areas of artistic and cultural life in Brussels. He acted as consultant to collectors buying and selling paintings, furniture, fine antiques and jewellery. He published books and organised concerts as well as conferences. In 1916 he even started art auctions in his gallery.
Georges Giroux already died in 1923. His wife, an experienced shop owner herself, took over his business until the 1930ies. Finally Giroux’s nephew, Georges Willems led the gallery successfully in the spirit of his uncle until its closure in 1960.