about the foundation

The Marcel Mariën Foundation was established on September 1st 2017.
Friendly encounters may have been a start to the idea, but the desire to reveal to all the work of a complex artist, of whom there is yet so much to discover, was certainly the main motivation of our initiative.

Discussions between long-time enthusiasts, who know that the essence of Marcel Mariën's work is rich and intricate and Mrs. Sarah Whitfield's desire to attempt an adventure that would finally offer a platform to the study of his oeuvre made the creation of this essential structure possible.

In 1937, at the age of 17, Marcel Mariën joined the group of surrealists in Brussels, alongside Paul Nougé, Camille Goemans, André Souris, René Magritte and others. He immediately exhibited his works with them and actively participated in the group's subversive actions. His writings and publications made him a fundamental member of the Belgian and international artistic scene and he became the first historian of surrealist activity in Belgium with his homonymous book and the publishing house Les Lèvres Nues, founded together with his friend Jane Graverol.

imageM. Mariën. Le surréalisme sans la peinture. 1972

In the absence of a specific cultural structure for the study of surrealist activity in Belgium, the country par excellence of one of the most important movements of the 20th century, the Marcel Mariën Foundation naturally set itself the extra goal of taking over this task. Through its documentation center, its publication projects, including catalogues raisonnés and exhibitions, the Foundation intends to facilitate the study and better understanding of the work of Marcel Mariën, as of other actors of the very rich surrealist scene in Belgium like Jane Graverol (1907-1984), Rachel Baes (1912-1983), Armand Simon (1906-1981), E.L.T. Mesens (1903-1971) and many others.
The Foundation encourages exchanges between all those interested in the artists it seeks to promote. Furthermore, its website aims to be a platform where researchers, institutions, collectors and other enthusiasts can share their knowledge, through unpublished articles, the dissemination of news and the gathering of information useful to the subject.

The documentation centre

The documentation Center is open to researchers by appointment. Documentalist Christine Retelet actively increases the collection by acquiring books and documents in accordance with the foundation’s goals.
It includes the complete collection of Les Lèvres Nues, as well as all existing publications in French on Marcel Mariën and on
Jane Graverol, Rachel Baes and Armand Simon. You can also consult works by and about Paul Nougé, the “Pope” of the Brussels group of surrealists and other writers such as Marcel Lecomte, Fernand Dumont, Achille Chavée, etc.
Also, a collection of the most important publications on René Magritte, long time fellow mate of Marcel Mariën, is available to the library’s visitors.



The Marcel Mariën Foundation is currently organizing and financing the establishment of the catalogues raisonnés of Marcel Mariën and Jane Graverol and working on the preparation of those of Rachel Baes and Armand Simon. In the long term, and insofar as we can gather the means, the Foundation aims to make its expertise available for the production of other catalogues raisonnés in connection with surrealist activity in Belgium.
In the long term, and insofar as we can gather the means, the Foundation aims to make its expertise available for the production of other catalogues raisonnés in connection with surrealist activity in Belgium.
As part of the efforts for a better understanding of the artist, the Marcel Mariën Foundation releases unpublished articles by researchers on its website.
The other publications are related to exhibitions and ongoing research projects.



Organizing and participating in exhibitions is one of the main goals of the Marcel Mariën Foundation. We seek to facilitate the loan of works and make our knowledge of the artist available to exhibition projects that include the work of Marcel Mariën. The monographic exhibition which should have taken place at Bozar in May 2020 has unfortunately been cancelled due to the health crisis, but similar projects are under consideration.


The Marcel Mariën Foundation is a partner of many exhibitions around the world that will take place as part of the centenary of Breton’s Manifeste du Surréalisme in 2024.

The Founding Members

Xavier Canonne, Director, founding member and member of the Marcel Mariën committee

Xavier Canonne , PhD in art history and archaeology (ULB, Brussels and Sorbonne, Paris) with a thesis on Surrealism in Belgium (1950-1993). Author of many books and curator of as many exhibitions on Surrealism in Belgium, he is now director of the Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi. Xavier Canonne was a faithful friend of Marcel Mariën, with whom he co-wrote books; in 2014 he organized a major retrospective of the artist for which he wrote the book Marcel Mariën, Le passager clandestin (Pandora/ Van de Velde), a fundamental reference for the knowledge of the artist.

Augustin Nounckele, Managing Director, founding member and member of the Marcel Mariën committee

Augustin Nounckele is an art historian (ULB, Brussels) and one of the researchers involved in the elaboration of Marcel Mariën’s catalogue raisonné. Author of a first research on the production of objects by Marcel Mariën, his work will soon be published. He also occasionally participates in the writing of texts in books or exhibition catalogues devoted to Marcel Mariën.

Pascal Retelet, Director, founding member

Pascal Retelet is an international gallery owner based in Monte Carlo. Since his early beginnings, he showed faith and enthusiasm in Belgian avant-garde artists in general and in his native region, the Hainaut, in particular. A great connoisseur of surrealist activity in Belgium, he has defended the work of Marcel Mariën for many years and has devoted the necessary resources for the creation and the functioning of the Marcel Mariën Foundation. His vision of Belgian surrealism corresponds to that of the artists who were part of it, i.e. a profoundly anti-hierarchical vision - one of the specificities of this branch of the movement.

Sarah Whitfield, Chairman, founding member and member of the Marcel Mariën committee

Sarah Whitfield is an independent art historian and specialist in Magritte and Surrealism in Belgium. She has also published reviews and articles on Lucio Fontana, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and other artists of the 20th century and is a member of the Authentication Committee of Francis Bacon’s works. Thanks to her original vision of the artistic past and present, she continues to shake up preconceived ideas, as with her publication on Bonnard’s influence on Bacon (Inside Francis Bacon, various authors, Thames & Hudson, 2020). A friend of Marcel Mariën, she inherited the author’s rights, that she donated to the Marcel Mariën Foundation, thus allowing its creation.

the team

Frank Castelyns, committee member Marcel Mariën, news editor

Artist and publisher of PERSONA editions, Frank Catelyns taught engraving, lithography and screen printing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Turnhout, later he tought screen printing at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. Between 1990 and 2018, he organized several exhibitions of Marcel Mariën, Wout Vercammen and Roland Van den Berghe in his studio. During Marcel Mariën’s lifetime, he collaborated on the printing of Mariën’s silkscreen prints and was the author of Marcel Mariën: The graphic work and the multiples, the catalogue raisonné of the multiples of Marcel Mariën. In 1989, he published Verborgen Sarabande, the first Dutch translation of
Marcel Mariën’s aphorisms.

Marie Godet, responsible of the catalogues raisonnés

Marie Godet holds a PhD in art history and archaeology (ULB, Brussels). Her doctoral thesis, which focuses on the object in Belgian Surrealism in the 1940s, crosses the paths of Marcel Mariën and Christian Dotremont. After having been assistant at the ULB for the courses of the nineteenth and twentieth century, then teaching assistant for the Bernheim chair dedicated to Magritte, Marie Godet held various positions in museum institutions. She is now an independent researcher and devotes herself, for the Marcel Mariën Foundation, to the preparation of the catalogues raisonnés of Rachel Baes, Jane Graverol and Mariën himself.

Christine Retelet, coordinator and librarian

A documentalist from Hainaut, Christine Retelet has an in-depth knowledge of the artists and writers of the Hennuyer surrealism movement. She is responsible for coordination between the departments and is the main hinge of the Foundation. Christine Retelet is also responsible for the acquisition of books and documents, the organization of the library, and the reception of researchers.

Hélène de Zàgon, Head Curator

Hélène de Zàgon is an independent art historian and museologist (Ecole du Louvre, Paris). She directed the Galerie Michel Luneau in Brussels and Paris and worked as an artistic advisor to the King Baudouin Foundation, the Region of Brussels and other public and private institutions. Hélène de Zàgon was curator of the exhibition Surréalisme à Saint-Gilles in 1998. She is co-administrator of the Galerie Coppens in Brussels. She also researched an important photographic archive of Marcel Mariën and is currently preparing a publication on the Franco-Italian artist Olga Morano, a close friend of the latter.

For the next meeting of the Marcel Mariën Committee, please contact us.