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Henri Van Herwegen, known by the pseudonym Panamarenko, was a prominent assemblagist Belgian sculptor. Famous for his work with aeroplanes as theme; none of which are able nor constructed to actually leave the ground.
Panamarenko was born in Antwerp, where he studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1955 to 1960. Before 1968, his art was inspired by pop-art, but early on he became interested in aeroplanes and human powered flight. This interest is also reflected in his name, which supposedly is an acronym for "Pan American Airlines and Company". The name Panamarenko may also be influenced by Panteleimon Ponomarenko, a politician-ambassador from the former Soviet Union.
Starting in 1970, he developed his first models of imaginary vehicles, aeroplanes, balloons or helicopters, in original and surprising appearances. Many of his sculptures are modern variants of the myth of Icarus. The question of whether his creations can actually fly is part of their mystery and appeal. His airship The Aeromodeller (1980) is a major exhibit at MSK Ghent.
The artists he admired include, amongst others: Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Bruce Nauman and Pablo Picasso.