James Ensor, the artistic patron saint of Ostend. His name is inextricably linked to this quirky coastal city. A day in Ostend is a dream introduction to Ensor’s universe.
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor (1860-1949) is an important figure in modern art. His name still resonates as strongly as ever. Ensor’s impressive collection- some 850 works of which are known - are both experimental and recognisable. Humour, satire and the grotesque are recurring elements. He drew much of the inspiration for this work from his home town of Ostend.
The grandmaster was born in this city in 1860, and in 1949 he drew his final breath there. The city remained his home for his whole life. This environment also seeped into his works. As a boy, James grew up to the sound of the North Sea, in the little shop run by his parents, uncle and aunt. In the shop they sold souvenirs, shells and all sorts of playful items such as carnival masks. The latter would inspire Ensor for eternity. These masks were a constant in his impressive work, together with themes such as death and a marked aversion to the bourgeoisie. A masterpiece like The Intrigue is the perfect example of this.