Emma Lambotte, Ensor’s soul mate
When Emma Lambotte discovered James Ensor’s work, she recognized a soul mate. The two of them became lifelong friends.
Our Ensor collection is one of the KMSKA’s greatest treasures. It truly is a goldmine – the largest ensemble of the artist’s work anywhere in the world. In this final instalment of our video series on James Ensor, we take a closer look at the man as an artist. And give some of his fans the chance to sing his praises.
Ensor once wrote: ‘I have an aversion to the banal, because what I seek is the sublime’. He found it too: in the weird and grotesque as well as the beautiful and spectacular. In both the small and the large.
Ensor studied in Brussels, the heart of the Belgian art world, which he slowly but surely conquered. He was one of the founders of the anti-academic artists’ collective Les XX (The Twenty), which organized major exhibitions each year, featuring works by the likes of Pissarro, Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne. And it goes without saying that Ensor himself was very much present too, with a lot of work and grand speeches.
I have an aversion to the banal, because what I seek is the sublime.
Ensor was constantly looking to innovate. He wanted to be a key figure in the avant-garde and couldn’t stand it when his exceptional talent was not sufficiently appreciated. So he inevitably clashed with certain conservative art lovers and critics who felt that a two-metre-high canvas of a woman eating oysters was rather overdoing it.
Ensor became a cult figure among the modernists from around 1900, since when he has been a constant inspiration to other artists. Gallery owner Tim Van Laere knows exactly what makes young artists’ hearts skip a beat. He tells us why James Ensor is such a big influence today on post-modern artists from New York to Berlin.
Tim’s brother Tom Van Laere – better known as the musician Admiral Freebee – is an Ensor fan too. He has written a homage to the artist, which we get to show you for the first time. The Admiral rounds off our video triptych in praise of James Ensor.
A Mals Media production for the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA)
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