Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ensor, James

Self-portrait with masks
oil on canvas
47. 1/4 x 31. 1/2 in.
Menard Art Museum, Komaki City, Japan

James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor (1860 - 1949) was a Flemish-Belgian painter, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend, Belgian coast city, for almost his entire life. He is considered to be an innovator in 19th century art. Although he stood apart from other artists of his time, he significantly influenced such 20th century artists as Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Alfred Kubin, and other expressionist and surrealist painters of the 20th century.

No single label adequately describes the visionary work produced by Ensor between 1880 and 1900, his most productive period. His pictures from that time have both Symbolist and Realist aspects, and in spite of his dismissal of the Impressionists as ‘superficial daubers’ he was profoundly concerned with the effects of light. His imagery and technical procedures anticipated the coloristic brilliance and violent impact of Fauvism and German Expressionism and the psychological fantasies of Surrealism.

This work produced in 1899 is said to be his last masterpiece. So many masks in the picture represent the artistic world and the people in Belgium that did not recognize his talent and kept alienating him. The picture, which clearly shows his offensiveness with striking colors, is now highly evaluated as a front-running work of the paintings in the 20th century.