'Jonas' – Ghent, Belgium - Atlas Obscura

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An unsettling sculpture of a boy hanging out in a street in Ghent has been baffling visitors for years. 


For several years, a public sculpture in Belgium nicknamed the “Hanging Boy” has been baffling internet users across the globe, not to mention the local passersby.

He seems to hang from the façade of a building in the Prinsenhof street in Ghent, perhaps floating, perhaps hung up on a hook or on some invisible gallows. But whatever the case is, it’s quite an unsettling, mystifying sight, especially for those unfamiliar with modern Belgian art.

The building in question was once a coach house and in the 19th-century was home to architect Jean-Baptiste Bethune, the co-founder of the Saint Luke schools who played a central role in the development of Neo-Gothic architecture in Belgium. Today, the spacious stables serve as the studio of local artist Sofie Müller, known for her macabre, anatomical works of art.

The statue is a piece of her earlier oeuvre, officially titled “Jonas.” Cast in bronze in 2011, it has been exhibited in a few locations including the C-Mine, and follows a style Müller was famous for at the time: innocent figures in less innocent contexts, representing la condition humaine. Recently, her sculptures shifted from bronze to alabaster, depicting an array of damaged human heads that can be seen at the Geukens & De Vil Gallery and more.

Know Before You Go

The sculpture can be found on the façade of the building on 71 Prinsenhof, Ghent.

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