James Ensor. an overview. The Family. Mother : Maria Catharina Haegheman. Father : James Frederik ENSOR. Biography : James Sidney Ensor. Birth : Ostend : 13 April 1860 Dead : Ostend : 19 November 1949
Painteddozens of small nature studies on pink cardboard
He receivedlessonsfrom the Director, Jean Portales, amongothers. FernardKhnopff, Theo Van Rysselberghe, Willy Finchandotherfuture members of the exhibitionassociations, 'Essorand Les Vingt, wereamong his fellow students.
In Brussels, he met the poet and art criticThéoHannon, whointroducedhimto the liberalcircles of Ernest Rousseau, professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and his youngerspouse, the nature expert Mariette Rousseau Hannon.
The home of the Rousseau couple was a meeting place for the artistic, literaryandscientific elite of the time.
The contactsthatEnsor had there-where he probably met Félicien Rops and Eugène Demolderandothers-stimulated his artisticandintellectualdevelopment.
From1886 onwards, humourbecomesan important element in James Ensor‘swork.
Clearly, Ensordidnotsit well with the lawyers, physicians, artists, criticsand power figures of his time.
Ensorspokeabout light as itwere a living essence. 'I have no child, but light is mydaughter, the light, oneandindivisible‘.Ensor‘s studies of the sea, the dunes, interiorsand even his portraits are for the most part studies of light effects, whereby light sometimesplays a domineering, as in the citation, andalsodisruptiverole.
In the first place, he chose subjects in whichdaemonscouldplay a leadingrole.From the onset, he chose for a humourousapproach, betray anti-clericalandsocially-criticalintentions. According toportraitsandinscriptions, Ensoralluded in these worksto the politicalandsocialquestionswithwhich his time was concerned.
The figureswhopopulate his interiorsdetermine the highlysuggestiveclimate in which, on the one hand is calmandintimate, yet on the other hand is busy, tormentedand the fascination for light comes in play.
In theirworks, reality was in conflict with the dream; the body with the soul, reasonwithmadness. The personages weredrivenby the fear for death.
Ensor found inspiration for his masks in his family‘s souvenir shops, in the Ostendcarnivalprocessions. The happy, carnivalesquefiguresconceal the visage of thosewhoEnsor had for so long alreadymenaced, dominated, tormentedandbeguiled. Masksandcaricatures gave him the opportunity toexpress his non- conformityandto vent his frustration.
There are few artistswhosofrequentlyand in somany different waysreproducedtheirown image.