Theme/Style – Modernism, Belle Époque, posters
Media – Lithography, collotype printing, photoengraving
Artistic Focus – Belgian artist Walter Van der Ven was born in 1884. He operated Walter Van der Ven & Co., doing photoengraving and color printing in Antwerp between 1910 and 1914. He is best known for designing the official poster to promote the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium (“Anvers” in French), though some references credit Martha van Kuyck (born 1881) as the creator of the poster and Walter Van der Ven as the “sketcher.” The poster features a monumental discus thrower (after a 19th century sculpture by Matthias Kessels) above the city of Antwerp, festooned with swirls of cloth representing the national flags of the competing nations. Van der Ven’s design actually dates to 1914, when it was used as the cover of a brochure to entice the Olympic Committee to hold the 1920 Games in Antwerp. When Antwerp was chosen, the Games organizers decided to use Van der Ven’s design as the event’s official poster. Walter Van der Ven passed away in 1923. His short lifespan no doubt contributed to the scarcity of his other artworks today.