20th Century Restauration Drama by Jean-Claude Block
20th Century Restoration Drama

Jean-Claude Block is a Flemish artist, who was part of the art collective Ercola in the 1970s. He is also known under the nicknames "Den Block" and "Blok".

Born in 1942, Block studied Architecture at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Schaarbeek and the Academy of Antwerp. He initially worked for a contractor, and then focused on designing posters, lay-outs and sets. He co-founded Ercola (Experimental Research Center of Liberal Arts) with artist Jean-Claude Buytaert, author Dominique Donnet and photographer Piet Verbist in November 1968.

Other artists joined the Antwerp-based collective in the 1970s, such as Wally van Looy, Werner Goelen, Luk Carlens, Suzzy Bailleux and Georges Smits. Danny De Laet organized his first comics expositions in the Ercola studio in the Grote Hondstraat in 1969. The group established itself as the main (and only) representative of the Flemish underground comix scene of the 1970s with their self-published comix magazine Spruit (six issues in 1971-1972). They produced cover illustrations for Real Free Press Illustratie, a publication of underground comix publisher Olaf Stoop from Amsterdam. Collective comic productions appeared in Aloha ('Johnny Kwatta & Sinister Agens'), Impact International, Spruit, Jos Vanhamme's Ding, Mimo, Tarantula, Gargl and Diepdruk. The group also made the book 'De Ont(h)aarde Maagd' with writer/poet Marcel van Maele in 1972. The artwork was provided by Block, Buytaert, Carlens and Goelen. In their collective productions, Buytaert was mostly responsible for the backgrounds, Block for the characters and Carlens for the inking.

Block, who sometimes signed with a drawing of a block of cheese, created comic strips like 'Les Rats Repus', 'Iso Traumwasser', 'De Orde van het Vurig Kruis', 'Constant Haay' (with Buytaert) and 'De arme man' (with Verbist), which appeared in Spruit, Impact International and Gimmick. With Goelen, he made untitled gags starring the little eggman 'Ollekay' in Mimo. Ercola dropped most of its (collective) comics activities as early as 1972, and focused on other forms of artistic expression. The only member who moved on to become a professional comic artist was Werner Goelen (Griffo). The Ercola group has gained most notoriety for their psychedelic graphic work, posters, silkscreens and advertisements, and maintained an atelier and exhibition space at the Wolstraat in Antwerp from 1972. During the 1980s and 1990s, Block, Van Looy and Frank Daniels continued to work in the atelier, by now named Het Decoratelier Ercola, designing sets for Belgian TV and theater productions. From 1995, Block was active as a set builder for Studio 100, the production company responsible for popular Flemish children's TV shows like 'Samson en Gert' and 'Kabouter Plop'.

De Arme Man by Jean-Claude Block

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