He was born in Antwerp in 1905 and as a very young boy took drawing lessons in the Dutch town of Breda under Gustaf van der Heyden. Steenwegen’s parents had relocated to Holland at the outbreak of World War One where they would remain until the cessation of the war. Returning to Belgian he continued his studies in Brussels with Albert Geudens and around this time became first aware of the paintings of Constant Permeke. The influence that Permeke would have on Steenwegen’s work was profound and he would soon adopt his clear Modernist style into his own work. Apart from his very early, and rather limited, art training, he was basically a self-taught painter but one whose skills were becoming increasingly evident. Perhaps the two most influential art circles of the time were ‘Moderne Kunst’ and ‘Kunst van Heyden’ and Steenwegen was invited to join both. In 1962 he founded the art group ‘Atelier Libre’ with the painters Jack Godderis and Jules de Sutter.
Gustave van Steenewegen died in Antwerp in 1986. Paintings by him can be seen today in the museums of Antwerp, Belgrade and Buenos Aires.