Musée d'Orsay: James Ensor

James Ensor


Under the High Patronage of
Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic
His Majesty Albert II, King of Belgium

James EnsorDeath and the Masks© ADAGP, Paris © photo MAMAC Liège
This exhibition, the first retrospective to be presented in Paris since 1990, aims to show the interplay of fracture and continuity to be found throughout Ensor's work.

Continuity comes from the Naturalism and Symbolism that influenced his early work, as well as the tradition of masks, disguise, grotesque and satire, and carnival, a legacy from his childhood in Ostend, a city to which he was deeply attached. Fracture is the dramatisation of the use of colour and light. It is also the invention of a new language where the words intrude unsubtly alongside images, in order to give meaning to ideas, and the invention of a new narrative system teeming with characters and actions. Through his scathing irony, his sense of derision and self-derision, his intense colours and his expressiveness, Ensor, a strange and unclassifiable painter, finds his place amongst the precursors of Expressionism.


Museum of Modern Art, New York
Anna Swinbourne, curator
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Laurence Madeline. Curator

This exhibition has been organised by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Musée d'Orsay and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris.

This exhibition is supported by the Flemish government

Exhibition also presented from June 28 to September 21 2009 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

20 October 2009 - 4 February 2010
Musée d'Orsay

Exhibition hall

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