James Ensor (1860-1949) – A selection from the art collection of KBC Bank


Date: 13/January/2012 - 26/February/2012

KBC Bank, whose headquarters are in Belgium, is building a remarkable collection of art, with such truly exciting parts as a set of more than a hundred works by James Ensor. Courtesy of the Bank, KOGART House can now present not only Ensor’s early series of graphics, but a few of his paintings as well.

James Ensor (1860–1949) was one of the most important artists of late-19th century Belgium. His art may have followed the formal solutions of late symbolism, but he was to be acknowledged as an important precursor by several avant-garde trends in the 20th century, particularly Expressionism. Grotesque carnival scenes came to dominate his subjects from the late 1880s on, populated by the caricature characters of “a world turned inside out”: skeletons, phantoms and masked figures, fictitious beings that constitute satirical references to the grave social problems and anomalies of Ensor’s time. The series of graphics that make up the major part of this exhibition occupy a special position within the oeuvre. He looked upon the copperplate, which at the end of the 19th century was mostly considered an applied form, as a genre with its own value, an equal of painting. KBC Bank’s collection of 133 graphic works by Ensor can be divided into two major groups. The 86 prints that belong in the first were the fruits of a period of intensive activity between 1886 and 1891, with themes that are related to those of the drawings and paintings that he made at the time. The second group comprises prints that he made after 1893, and are mostly copies of his own drawings and paintings.

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