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Step Inside the Historical Antwerp Loft of Art Dealer Boris Vervoordt

“It’s something much more powerful than yourself”: Vervoordt and husband writer Michael Gardner share their philosophy behind collecting art and what really makes a home
By Cheyenne Wehren  Jan 31, 2022
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Boris Vervoordt’s loft home—a sixteenth-century former coffee warehouse—is located in the Vlaeykensgang, a medieval alleyway in Antwerp’s city center. His father, art dealer and designer Axel Vervoordt, discovered this area when he was 21 years old and spent years restoring houses as they became vacant together with his wife May. One of them became the first location of the family’s growing business, the start of a five-decade path of living with art. Vervoordt, an art dealer and director at Axel Vervoordt Company, still calls the Vlaeykensgang home today together with his husband, writer Michael Gardner.
Boris Vervoordt Living with Art | TEFAF | The European Fine Art Foundation
The sitting room features a blue Armless Easy Chair by Pierre Jeanneret from Chandigarh, India, and Norio Imai’s Work – Central Catastrophe (1965) on the back wall at the left. Above, a suspended conceptual iron sculpture by Otto Boll (1976). On the right, Jef Verheyen’s Untitled 1962 hangs near a French slate table with two Chinese 18th-century elm chairs and a wooden sculpture by Daniel De Belder displayed on the table. Two slate stones are placed in front of the fireplace.

Over the years, Vervoordt and Gardner have collected works that are very dear to them, the close relationship to the objects that enter their home being of great importance. “At home, I like to be surrounded by pieces that each […] represent a relationship. From every piece, I know the story, I know why it came into my life,” Vervoordt explains. When advising new collectors, Vervoordt highlights the opportunity to seek lessons from art. “I see collecting as something in keeping with the Renaissance idea of universal vision on the world. It is the idea to be inspired by objects that represent philosophies and cultures in order to enrich our capacity to understand the world better and with more depth and knowledge.”

Explore Vervoordt and Gardner’s philosophy behind collecting art and how they’ve created a home together in the latest video from TEFAF’s Living with Art series.

Boris Vervoordt Living with Art | TEFAF | The European Fine Art Foundation
Boris Vervoordt and Michael Gardner in their historical loft in the city center of Antwerp. Gardner sits on an Axel Vervoordt Company sofa with Belgian linen, on the back wall Sadaharu Horio’s Ironuri (“paint placements”) (January 1—December 31, 2008) and Untitled (2016) by Bosco Sodi. The upper level features a painting by Michel Mouffe, Tsuyoshi Maekawa’s Untitled (2017), Ryuji Tanaka’s Sei C (circa 1963), and a French Table d’office (circa 1800-1810) with a Christian Dell Double Table Lamp (1930).
Boris Vervoordt Living with Art | TEFAF | The European Fine Art Foundation
The sitting room features Sadaharu Horio’s Ironuri (“paint placements”) (January 1—December 31, 2008), an iron wire painted daily with acrylic, on the wall and a collection of stones and ceramic objects, including Jef Verheyen’s Blue Paint Pot From the Studio of Jef Verheyen and a unique black ceramic cylinder by Morten Lobner Espersen.
Boris Vervoordt Living with Art | TEFAF | The European Fine Art Foundation
The dining room features on the left wall a work by Bosco Sodi, Untitled, on the center wall Frank Thiel’s Stadt 2/70 (Berlin) (2003). The oval wood table is by Axel Vervoordt, surrounded by Axel Vervoordt Company chairs along with two Italian leather chairs (circa 1930), and two Edward J. Wormley beech and leather chairs (1950s-60s). On the table stands a black vase by Ronald Van Der Hilst.
“At home, I like to be surrounded by pieces that each […] represent a relationship. From every piece, I know the story, I know why it came into my life.” —Boris Vervoordt
Boris Vervoordt Living with Art | TEFAF | The European Fine Art Foundation
Atop a 17th-century Italian walnut side table is displayed Bosco Sodi’s Untitled (2016), a volcanic rock with ceramic glaze. Above the table, the LED wall video projection Nu descendant un escalier (“Nude descending the stairs”) (2018) by Angel Vergara.
Boris Vervoordt Living with Art | TEFAF | The European Fine Art Foundation
Private, ground-floor office spaces that were formerly the first location of the Axel Vervoordt Gallery. On the left, Frederico Garcia Lorca II (2018) by Michel Mouffe, an armstool by Hans J. Wegner (1967), and an artist atelier standing desk table (France, 1900). On the right, currently Michael’s office, featuring Jaromír Novotný’s Untitled (2019).
Photography by: K. Geudens.
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