JAMES ENSOR: TO DIE FOR IMMORTALITY

James EnsorJames Ensor, To Die for Immortality

JAMES ENSOR: TO DIE FOR IMMORTALITY

The Museum Montanelli has received the unique opportunity to present a loan of a unique collection of 52 drawings, engravings, and lithographs by that “visionary of modernity“, predecessor to expressionism and surrealism, Belgian painter and graphic artist James Ensor (1860-1949).

James EnsorJames Ensor, To Die for Immortality

The collection, which for more than 100 years has been at the Saarland Museum in Germany, represents central themes of Ensor’s work and documents his influence on the art scene during his life and over the subsequent decades. James Ensor was not a religious person. And yet, 38 of Ensor’s 52 prints held in the Saarland Museum’s collection contain motifs addressing Christian themes – and in 35 instances he directly addresses the life of Jesus Christ.

James EnsorJames Ensor, To Die for Immortality

Ensor saw the life of Jesus as a parable, as a way of seeing himself as an artist and a way of
exploring the world’s cultural, political, and social characteristics. In his works making use of the motif of Jesus, Ensor again and again portrays the utter incomprehension that the Savior faced, including the infinite injustice he incurred at the hands of secular power. Since time immemorial, myths and meditations upon art have worked with the topos that life is short but art is eternal.

James EnsorJames Ensor, To Die for Immortality

Understandably, this view is based on the conviction that the artist’s life continues in his work – and on the desire for this to be true. In 1886, he suddenly begins to engage in printmaking and paintings cease to be the focus of his artistic endeavors. Ensor is convinced that etchings are a suitable medium for ensuring his “further life“, life after death. On the other hand, however, the many different motifs and allusions celebrate his own death in some of his self-potraits.

more. museummontanelli.com

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