Smak, Ghent

James Ensor, Death and the Masks, 1897, oil on canvas, 30 x 39".

James Ensor, Death and the Masks, 1897, oil on canvas, 30 x 39".

Smak, Ghent

James Ensor

Belgium

October 31, 2010–February 27, 2011

Curated by Ronald van de Sompel

Long considered a marginal eccentric, beloved on a need-to-know basis, James Ensor is being recategorized. His relevance for artists today was noted at the time of MoMA’s underwhelming 2008 retrospective, and the exhibition at SMAK (organized with Ghent’s Museum of Fine Art) explores this connection, juxtaposing Ensor’s work with that of a varied group of artists ranging from Cindy Sherman to Jonathan Meese. It seems a terrible burden to hold Ensor accountable for anyone’s video or performance art, but perhaps interesting resonances are contained here. In Brussels, a survey opening October 7 at the ING Cultural Centre (organized by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels) will explore Ensor’s working methods through a substantial selection of paintings, drawings, and ephemera. A unique opportunity to consider this fascinating weirdo’s work in the country he barely left.