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Between Street and Mirror

The Drawings of James Ensor

2001

Catherine de Zegher, editor

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The first major book devoted solely to the drawings of this influential artist.

Early in his career, Belgian painter James Ensor (1860-1949) broke away from Impressionism, rejecting its prettiness in favor of an original, highly dramatic style. Incorporating elements of satire, caricature, masquerade, and the grotesque, Ensor was a sharp observer of his social and political milieu and a skilled controversialist. This volume, published to accompany the first major New York exhibition of Ensor’s drawings, includes more than one hundred plates, most of them in color, as well as several essays that place Ensor’s drawings in the context of both artistic and historical developments of his time and his oeuvre.

“His skulls, masks and lurid crowd scenes have won for James Ensor a surprisingly durable niche in a fin-de-siècle gallery of oddballs.” Times Literary Supplement

Early in his career, Belgian painter James Ensor (1860-1949) broke away from Impressionism, rejecting its prettiness in favor of an original, highly dramatic style. Incorporating elements of satire, caricature, masquerade, and the grotesque, Ensor was a sharp observer of his social and political milieu and a skilled controversialist. Bridging the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and not easily fitting into one particular movement or group, his drawings are increasingly valued for their innovative subjects and techniques, as well as the strong social criticism at their heart.

This volume, published to accompany the first major New York exhibition of Ensor’s drawings, includes more than one hundred plates, most of them in color. Essays by Susan M. Canning (College of New Rochelle), Marcel De Maeyer (University of Ghent), and Robert Hoozee (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent), along with a chronology by Xavier Tricot, serve to place Ensor’s drawings in the context of both artistic and historical developments of his time and his oeuvre.

Distributed for the Drawing Center

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“His skulls, masks and lurid crowd scenes have won for James Ensor a surprisingly durable niche in a fin-de-siècle gallery of oddballs.” Times Literary Supplement

“...a valuable, well-argued account of how Ensor’s satirical drawings drew inventively on popular culture to address the historical moment...” Times Literary Supplement

What holds most strongly in this expertly produced book are some images in which Ensor’s densely naturalistic renderings-of a sleeping woman, of a dark iron stov

are circled by fantastic, fly-weight sketches of a Greek chorus of freaks and gremlins. The effect is pure Freud, with Jugendstil nightmares bubbling out of Ensor’s stolid bourgeois renderings.” Jed Perl in The New Republic

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