Special Issue

Le Génie du Nord: Sélection and the Advocacy of a Cosmopolitan Northern Culture

  • Chara Kolokytha


The article discusses the francophone review of art and literature Sélection published in Brussels (1920–22) and Antwerp (1923–33), Belgium, by André de Ridder and Paul-Gustave van Hecke. It takes as its point of departure the concept Le Génie du Nord [The Genius of the North], which was the title of a 1925 book published in Antwerp by De Ridder. The book mainly consists of essays previously published in Sélection between 1923 and 1924. De Ridder argues that France should not claim autonomy in the field of cultural production since throughout the centuries Nordic influence played a central role in its evolution. Although the book attracted little attention from the contemporary press, it offers a novel approach to the Nordic idea through the anticipation of a new classical order that distinguished itself from Southern classicism. While German expressionism is equally renounced, the book proposes a synthetic style — similar to the one that marked the gothic period — that also found expression in the art presented in Sélection. This style furnished a visual model for the invention of a new classical order stemming from the successful mingling of French rationalism with Flemish expressionism, a ‘constructive expressionism’ that became the precondition for a universal Nordic culture. The magazine was supportive of those French and Belgian artists who achieved a combination of the two styles — an ‘eclectic dualism’, in the words of Edmond Picard. Taking the origins of Gothicism and the Nordische Gesellschaft as case points of ideological complexity, the Génie du Nord concept forms an alternative discourse which intervenes in an ongoing art-historical and cultural debate that defines the identity of Sélection.

How to Cite:

Kolokytha, C., (2021) “Le Génie du Nord: Sélection and the Advocacy of a Cosmopolitan Northern Culture”, Journal of European Periodical Studies 6(2), 55–71. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/jeps.v6i2.20348

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Published on
18 Dec 2021
Peer Reviewed