James Ensor

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Anna Swinbourne, Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)
Museum of Modern Art, 2009 - Art - 208 pages
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James Ensors painting of 1887, The Temptation of St Anthony, now in MoMAs collection, established him as one of the boldest painters of his contemporaries. Ensor (18601949) was a major figure in the Belgian avant-garde of the late 19th century and an important precursor to the development of Expressionism in the early 20th, yet his work is far too little seen. This striking book, published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, NewYork, gives Ensor the attention he so greatly deserves. Approximately ninety paintings, prints and drawings are featured, creating a complete picture of the artists daring, experimental oeuvre. Essays examine Ensors modernity, his innovative and allegorical approach to light, his prominent use of satire, his deep interest in carnival and performance, and finally his own self-fashioning, masking and roleplaying. As the most comprehensive volume on the artist available in English, this remarkable volume reveals Ensor as a socially engaged and self-critical artist involved with the issues of his times and contemporary debates on the very nature of modernism.

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About the author (2009)

James Ensor grew up in the seaside town of Ostend, Belgium, where he returned after studying at the AcadEmie de Bruxelles, and worked for the rest of his life. Ensor painted in a studio that had once been his aunt and uncleis shell and souvenir shop, and although he shut its doors to the public, he left some of the merchandise as it was. As a leading member of the avant-garde group Les XX (The Twenty) he shared their harsh critical reception, but after Les XX disbanded, he continued to work and eventually won wide acclaim. By the time of his death in 1949 he had been made a baron, and his home is now the Ensor House museum.

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