James Ensor (1860-1949) produced one of the most unusual bodies of work at the turn of the twentieth century. Marked by psychological complexity, contradictions and sheer eccentricity, his works - featuring such bizarre subject-matter as dressed-up skeletons and macabre carnival masks - have continued to baffle and intrigue in equal measure. Ensor was born in Ostend and barely left his home town during his lifetime; his family, however, ran a curio shop filled with an array of exotic objects including parrots, a monkey and masks from around the world, which perhaps in part influenced the imagery of his mature work. In this volume, essays explore Ensor's life and legacy, while Luc Tuymans's comments on his selection provide a dictinctive picture of James Ensor, who has been such a major influence on Expressionism and Surrealism.
Luc Tuymans, a Belgian painter, is a leading contemporary artist with works in major museums and collections worldwide. Herwig Todts is Conservator of Modern Art at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp.