James Ensor (1860–1949) is a key figure in the history of modern art. He pioneered several artistic movements. This Ostend native isn’t easily categorised.
Ostend plays an important role in Ensor’s creations. Throughout his career, he found inspiration in the sea’s many and various hues. He is also inextricably bound to the city itself. He was born and spent almost all of his life here. It is where he finally breathed his last after a career spanning 70 years in which he gave some 850 paintings to the world.
The Queen of seaside resorts remains this grand master’s home to this day. His residence for the last 30 years of his life has been renamed Ensor House and is now a unique piece of heritage with a splendid visitor centre. Nearby Mu.ZEE grants an additional glimpse into his life and work.
Much of his rich body of work has also found its way into major museums around the world. Still, Flanders offers the best introduction to his greatness. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (KMSKA) has the largest Ensor collection in the world and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels (KMSKB) have a fair amount of his work on display. The museums Plantin-Moretus, Dhondt-Dhaenens and the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent have also continued to spread his message to the world.