Berlinde De Bruyckere.

3:56 PM

Inspired by Old Masters, the artist tackles nothing less than the human condition in her bracing sculptures.
For 23 years, Berlinde De Bruyckere has been making her haunting wax sculptures in a 19th-century neo-Gothic former Catholic boys school in the harbor district of Ghent, Belgium. Her studio is a series of cavernous, light-filled former classrooms that look out through tall windows on a stand of trees in a central courtyard and are connected by long, drafty hallways. Upstairs, a similar configuration serves as the studio of her husband, the sculptor Peter Buggenhout. Along with their two sons, ages 11 and 3, the couple lives in a two-story structure that is connected to the school and once served as the headmaster’s residence.
At 44, De Bruyckere has an ascetic air: She sports no-nonsense, close-cropped hair and speaks in a slow, considered way. More often than not her face wears the intense, thoughtful expression you might expect from someone whose work grapples with the universal themes of life and death, suffering and solace. She filters the imagery and emotions of the greatest Old Master works through the lens of present-day atrocities, creating life-size wax and horsehide figures that are, as she puts it, "both frightening and comforting." here.

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