Photography and the spatial transformations of Ghent, 1840-1914Photography and the spatial transformations of Ghent, 1840-1914
Faculty of Design Sciences
Henry van de Velde
2016Beverly Hills, Calif., 2016
Journal of urban history. - Beverly Hills, Calif., 1974, currens
(2016), p. 1-16
University of Antwerp
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the photographic visualization of the Belgian city of Ghent is closely connected to its urban planning. On one hand, the city is transformed according to the logics of industrial modernization with its functional and spatial zoning. On the other hand, the citys historical heritage is rediscovered and many medieval buildings were preserved and restored. The planning history of Ghent is usually described in two stages: first, the Haussmannization of the city, the creation of boulevards and vistas according to the model of Brussels and Paris, and second, the return to regionalism and a picturesque sensibility during the preparation of the 1913 Worlds Fair. The photographic representation of the city seems to mirror this evolution, exchanging the image of the city as a series of isolated monuments for a more sensory and immersive experience. However, a close look at a broad range of images produced by both foreign and local photographers allows us to nuance this assumption. Particularly, the work of Edmond Sacré, who photographed Ghent over half a century, combines a topographical and a picturesque sensibility.