Paris, Musée d’Orsay

This exhibition, the first retrospective presented in Paris since 1990, aims to show the unique interplay of both fracture and continuity throughout Ensor's career, as well as the course of its inspiration. Exhibited at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Bruxelles and at the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Museum in Antwerp, James Ensor’s (1861-1949) paintings reveal an innovative yet tortured artist.

The first director of New York’s The Museum of Modern Art, Alfred Barr, described Ensor in the 1940’s as “the most audacious living artist”. Sixty years after his death, the painter’s legacy testifies to his Belgian origins and international recognition. While James Ensor’s early work was influenced by Naturalism and Symbolism, the traditions of disguise, satire, and carnivals stem from the influence of his childhood in Ostend, a city to which he was deeply attached.

Through his scathing irony, his sense of derision and self-derision, and his intensely expressive colors, Ensor, a strange and unclassifiable painter, finds his place as an important precursor to Expressionism.


October 20, 2009 – February 4, 2010
Musée d’Orsay
62, rue de Lille
75007 Paris
T. +33 (0)1 40 49 48 14