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Bozar announces “with profound sadness” the death of its director Sophie Lauwers

Sophie Lauwers
10:32 09/06/2022

Seven months after her appointment as director of Bozar (Centre for Fine Arts Brussels), Sophie Lauwers has died from cancer.

“We will remember her refined personality and as someone who lived life with passion and great humour. She drew strength from beauty and art, a strength she radiated with a smile,” said Bozar in a press announcement.

The death of Lauwers at the age of 55 represents an immense loss for Bozar and the Belgian art world. When she was named the first female director of the country’s leading arts institution, she faced the daunting task of taking over from long-standing director, the towering and divisive Paul Dujardin, while steering the organisation through post-pandemic recovery.

As the former head of exhibitions, she drew on her 20-years of experience at Bozar to pursue a style of management based on consensus and team work.

Her legacy to the art world is to have forged connections between classical and contemporary art and between the visual arts and other artistic disciplines. She was largely responsible for many of Bozar’s blockbuster exhibitions, such as David Hockney, Keith Haring and Michaël Borremans.

But Lauwers was also committed to alternating such big names with lesser-known artists, and for her, it was self-evident to accord female artists equal attention.

Her vision for the future, underlined Bozar in its statement, was centred on “connection, generosity, and the power of the artist’s imagination”.

In an interview with L’Echo earlier this year, Lauwers made this characteristically humble comment about the social role of culture. "We're not going to save the world, but we might be able to help a little."

The return of her illness, which she handled discreetly, prevented her from pursuing these challenges. Her tasks are for the moment divided among other members of Bozar’s executive committee.

Although Sophie Lauwers passed away on 29 May, at the request of her family, the news was only released after her private funeral on Wednesday.

A condolence book is open to the public in the entrance of Bozar in Rue Ravenstein, from 10 to 28 June.


Written by Sarah Crew