James Ensor

Belgian, 1860–1949

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James Ensor

Belgian, 1860–1949

1,174
Followers
Biography

A major figure of the Belgian avant-garde in the late 19th century and a forerunner of 20th-century Expressionism, James Ensor produced paintings that explored religious subject matter, political satire, and carnivalesque imagery (his family owned an antiques and souvenir emporium that sold grotesque carnival masks). Stylistically, his paintings are characterized by harsh colors and thick layers of oil paint, sometimes applied with palette knives or spatulas. His most famous work, Christ’s Entry into Brussels (1889), incorporated his trademark style and depictions of fairground masks to satirize contemporary religion and politics in Belgium. In his early years, Ensor was a founder and leader of Les Vingt (The Twenty), a group whose goal was to promote new artistic developments in Europe, though they later rejected his work as it became more radical and extreme in subject and method. Ensor admired the works of Francisco Goya and J. M. W. Turner, and felt a particular affinity with their preoccupations with both light and violence.

Related Categories
Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Auction
High auction record
€7m, Sotheby's, 2016
User
Solo show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 4 more
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 9 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 3 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale National Pavilion, and 2 more
Biography

A major figure of the Belgian avant-garde in the late 19th century and a forerunner of 20th-century Expressionism, James Ensor produced paintings that explored religious subject matter, political satire, and carnivalesque imagery (his family owned an antiques and souvenir emporium that sold grotesque carnival masks). Stylistically, his paintings are characterized by harsh colors and thick layers of oil paint, sometimes applied with palette knives or spatulas. His most famous work, Christ’s Entry into Brussels (1889), incorporated his trademark style and depictions of fairground masks to satirize contemporary religion and politics in Belgium. In his early years, Ensor was a founder and leader of Les Vingt (The Twenty), a group whose goal was to promote new artistic developments in Europe, though they later rejected his work as it became more radical and extreme in subject and method. Ensor admired the works of Francisco Goya and J. M. W. Turner, and felt a particular affinity with their preoccupations with both light and violence.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Auction
High auction record
€7m, Sotheby's, 2016
User
Solo show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 4 more
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 9 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 3 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale National Pavilion, and 2 more
Shows Featuring James Ensor
Articles Featuring James Ensor
Symbolism
Nov 28th, 2018
Symbolism
Influential Sculptor Richard Tuttle on 5 Eccentric Artworks That Inspire Him
Sep 17th, 2018
Influential Sculptor Richard Tuttle on 5 Eccentric Artworks That Inspire Him
The Artist Who Depicted Life as a Macabre Carnival
Jun 18th, 2018
The Artist Who Depicted Life as a Macabre Carnival
These Artists Are Giving Knitting a Place in Art History
Jan 25th, 2017
These Artists Are Giving Knitting a Place in Art History
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