James Ensor: Kroniek van zijn leven
Extensive and richly illustrated biography with footnotes. The author uses unpublished correspondence.
James Ensor (1860-1949) is without doubt one of the most complex and versatile artists of the second half of the nineteenth century. Without a master or pupils, he has set pictorial beacons and explored the boundaries of the visual arts in total independence and apart from the then current art movements. When he painted his first masterpieces at the age of twenty, Impressionism was rampant in Europe. Together with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Munch, James Ensor worked on a completely new vision that was unparalleled in modern art at the end of the nineteenth century. Apart from Impressionism, Symbolism and Neo-Impressionism, he developed a personal style and an original visual language. He managed to transform the elements he drew from completely different sources of inspiration into his own visual language. If there is one modern artist that we associate with masks and skeletons without much thought, it is without a doubt the Ostend painter. No one before him has painted, used, and exploited the carnival mask and skeleton so thoroughly. It eventually became his emblem. But James Ensor is more than the ‘painter of masks and skeletons’. His oeuvre is extensive and diversified. He has drawn, etched and painted still lifes, portraits, landscapes, caricatures, fantastic and religious scenes. The satirical, political, religious and historical themes are many. He found his inspiration in the Bible, historical writings, erudite reference works and popular magazines. But in the end it was mainly his own fantasies that would determine his visual language. IN DUTCH!