An exceptional collection of roughly five thousand, particularly twentieth century, collages and assemblages lies at the heart of the private collection. A separate exhibition space has been specially designed to permanently display part of the collection. Not all of the works are on view, the exhibition is a subject to change four times a year.
The collection, which was developed around the art of mainly Belgian artists, encompasses collages from the early 1920s (Avant-Garde and Dada era) by Paul Joostens, Georges Herbiet, Henri Van Straten, Michel Seuphor, Marcel-Louis Baugniet and Jean-Jacques Gailliard. Collages created by surrealists such as E.L.T. Mesens, Marcel Mariën, Gilbert Senecaut, Louis Scutenaire, Jane Graverol, Rachel Baes, Robert Willems and Roger Van De Wouwer also form a part of the collection. Many of these collages have been loaned for exhibitions to the Museum of Bucharest (Belgian Surrealism), the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (Dada), the new Musée des Beaux-Arts in Mons (Surréalisme en Belgique 1920-2000) and to the Musée du Louvre (Jan Fabre, L’Ange de la Métamorphose).
A wide range of works by artists from the heydays of collage art (1950s through 1970s) has been included into the collection: Georges Collignon, Engelbert Van Anderlecht, Robert Geenens, Max Servais, Annie Debie, Louis Van Lint, Christian Dotremont, the Coll’Art movement (founded by Marcel-Louis Baugniet and Jean Milo). The collection also includes a series of works by authors, poets and art critics dating back to the same era: literary creations by Louis-Paul Boon, Hugo Claus, Freddy De Vree, Paul De Vree and Patrick Conrad. Furthermore, the collection incorporates some “Collages Partagés” – collective collages created by artist duos: Paule Pia and Annie Debie, Christian Dotremont and Mogens Balle, Jo Delahaut and Jean Dypréau, Serge Vandercam and Joseph Noiret. Constructivist artists such as Jo Delahaut, Jean Rets and Jean-Pierre Maury are also represented in the collection.
Featuring works by contemporary Belgian artists like Jan Fabre, Panamarenko and Luc Tuymans, the Verbeke Foundation offers a unique overview of twentieth century collage art (un siècle de collage). Moreover, the collectors keep eyes open for young artists experimenting with the medium of collage. The intention is to reserve a certain amount of sections of the collage exhibition space for solo shows by contemporary artists. Works by Sofie Muller were on display during the first individual collage exhibition in 2007. The second solo exhibition was devoted to Thierry Renard, one of a few Belgian artists with an oeuvre built largely around collages.