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JAAR > 2020
9781912520220 9781912520220_01 9781912520220_02
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Léon Spilliaert

(1881 - 1946) (Eng. ed)

ISBN: 9781912520220 (HB - E)

Belgium symbolist painter and graphic artist. Watercolourist, pastellist, painter (gouache), draughtsman. Portraits, genre scenes, still-lifes, landscapes, seascapes. From childhood he displayed an interest in art and drawing and was a prolific doodler, spending much time sketching scenes of ordinary life and the Belgium countryside. In 1889 he studied briefly at the Tekenacademie in Bruges. His early work, already Symbolist in style was informed by his readings of writers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Maurice Maeterlinck. From February 1903 to January 1904 he worked for Edmond Deman in Brussels, a publisher of symbolist writers, whose work Spilliaert was to illustrate. In 1904 Spilliaert stayed in Paris, where he was on the fringe of Picasso's circle and discovered the work of Munch and Toulouse-Lautrec, whose influences he acknowledged. He continued to spend most winters in Paris to keep in touch with the city's cultural life. Although often associated with the key figures of Belgian Symbolism, Léon Spilliaert in fact demonstrated a peculiarly individual style. Born in Ostend, he worked there for most of his career. An introvert and insomniac who suffered from poor health as a young man, Spilliaert wandered the night-time streets of the North Sea resort, creating mysterious and highly atmospheric depictions of its dark docks, beaches and promenades. Almost entirely self-taught, he drew influence from such painters as Odilon Redon and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, as well as the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Friedrich Nietzsche. This book brings together over a hundred works from international collections, including a series of haunting self-portraits that Spilliaert created in his twenties. Authoritative authors discuss the artist's singular approach and put his career in context alongside that of his more famous compatriot and contemporary James Ensor.

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