The Higher Institute for Fine Arts offers young talented artists from Belgium and abroad a studio for two years together with professional guidance by experts from the international art world. These work periods often launch international art careers. This book conveys an image of all HISK artists of the past two decades and in so doing sketches a history of contemporary art in Belgium and beyond. Essays by the HISK's co-founder and chairman Willem Elias and renowned experts such as John C. Welchman, Katerina Gregos and Gertrud Sandqvis reflect on the artist in his studio and his societal role in the world. With Tate Modern-director Chris Dercon, the HISK's artistic director Oscar van den Boogaard discusses the future of art in its academic context. They pose the question: "What role can a Higher Institute for Fine Arts play?" And: "How does such an institution remain relevant?" Featuring old, but especially new work - on exclusive artists' pages - by 230 artists.