Sometimes overlooked, architect and aesthete Michel Polak (1885-1948) nonetheless created many buildings that are now seen as emblematic of the City of Brussels, among them the Residence Palace, the Hotel Plaza and the Villa Empain. His career, spanning the entire first half of the 20th century, mirrors this culturally and aesthetically effervescent period.
Representative of the styles of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Polak’s work stands out for its opulence and luxury. Via his creations we see the profession of architect evolve towards that of architect-artist and a growing interest in the East, in African art and in discoveries in Egyptology.
The exhibition offers a rereading of Michel Polak’s work in the light of the historical, technological and stylistic upheavals of the time, showing him both accommodating himself to and standing out from the prevailing aesthetics, reinterpreting the codes in force, absorbing the discoveries of his time and positioning himself vis-à-vis his contemporaries. An exhibition circuit with rare archive documents, period photos, original plans and previously unseen films will shed new light on the architect’s work.