PEX through paintings #2 – “Simultaneous Dresses”

Tuesday 28 January 2020

The second painting chosen to depict an issue from PEX 2020 is Delaunay’s “Simultaneous Dresses”. This seems to nicely allude to the idea of “European philanthropy” being both one and many. In one way, the notion of European philanthropy covers a shared spectrum of philanthropic traditions and expressions that makes the European body of philanthropy distinct (at least partially) from developments in other regions. For example, in a piece on the European Foundation Centre’s (EFC) webpages, Lisa Jordan, Founder of Aim for Social Change, has highlighted that there are:

‘critical differences in philanthropy that exist in “winner-take-all” societies like the United States, versus European philanthropy. Philanthropies in “winner-take-all” societies are often fighting to get the state to assume responsibility through a series of carrot and stick approaches. In well-functioning social welfare states, however, the role of philanthropy is often to work in greater collaboration with the state, to discover new horizons in knowledge or to ensure that the history of the continent is well preserved.’

Simultaneously, however, the rhetoric of ‘European philanthropy’ is also misleading: it masks a diversity of distinct developments at regional and national levels. One just has to look at the different foundation forms and distinctions across Europe to see this – one dress, many cuts, many colours.


This short blog series reflects on ten overarching points relating to the 2020 Philanthropy Europe Networks (PEX) Forum through ten paintings from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. All images featured in the series are photos taken in line with the museum’s policy allowing no-flash photography. Free acess to digital versions of the paintings and accompanying information on copyrights are provided on the museum’s webpages at

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