In 2009 the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp displayed a unique collection of grotesque paintings, drawings and prints by Goya, Redon and Ensor in an exceptional spring exhibition.
In the work of Francisco de Goya (1746 - 1828), Odilon Redon (1840 - 1916) and James Ensor (1860 - 1949) the grotesque plays a major part. A confrontation between their art clarifies and strengthens the significance of these amazing artists who may be regarded as the grandmasters of modern art.
Goya produced numerous paintings and drawings of demons, witches and fools, portraying them with a combination of pity, amusement and dread. Redon seems rather stern and symbolic, he had a predilection for bizarre subject matter, like amoebae with human heads, embryos, and large staring eyes. Ensor, who is best known as the 'painter of masks', liked to mock everyone and everything in his grotesque and somewhat disconcerting creations. On the face of it, the three artists seem worlds apart, but the deeper one explores their work, the more obvious the similarities become. Ensor was quietly inspired by Redon, and both Redon and Ensor were admirers of Goya's work. Moreover, all three are now regarded to be the pioneers of Modernism.
Starting from the collection
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts possesses a series of rare etchings by Goya, a coloured pastel by Redon and the most important Ensor collection in the world. Using the collection as a starting point the museum composed this exhibition with loans from Belgian institutions and museums from abroad.
This exhibition was accompanied by the book Goya, Redon, Ensor. Grotesque paintings and drawings that displays a series of rare etchings by Goya, drawings by Redon and a selection of Ensor's masterpieces from the collection.