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James Ensor. Death and Masks. (1897). Expressionnism

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James Ensor. Death and Masks. (1897). Expressionnism. 

James Sidney Ensor is a painter writer and Belgian type-setter. He belongs to the Rise and the group of the XX, two circles of before guards which enable him to expose part of the paintings refused by the shows of Antwerp and Brussels and that even the public does not appreciate. Its portraits, its middle-class interiors and its landscapes do not have any success. Thus, certainly by spite, since 1883 it starts to paint its famous paintings of masks. Native of Ostend it takes as a starting point the the festivals and the carnivals of his area. These pictures are sets of human roles. In these parades, often morbid, the artist represents itself like his pessimistic vision of the world of the men. Certainly depity by the little of recognition, and carrying out a withdrawn life, in these works clearly appears its obsession for death. The masks can be regarded as amplified caricatures. For him the human condition is funny and wretched and the life is only one vast parody. At the end of its life it gives up painting to be devoted to the music until its death. And ironically these are the paintings of mask which will return it celebrates certainly well too tardily with are taste, at the end of the 19eme century. 

The point of view of the witness is at the level of dead which is in central position. The other characters surround it. 

Death is in the center between 4 tension fields and 4 natural point of interest. 2 characters on the left and 3 on the right are located on 2 tension fields and 2 natural point of interest.

The sky with the background occupies a third of pictorial space. The group on the right another third. The death and the group of left the last third. 

The circle and the round forms are the base of the composition.

Details : 

Death and its scythe are represented 2 times in the sky.

This character does not have a mask, as it carries a musical instrument it can act of a self-portrait.

The shape of the mouth of the character to the red hat makes it grotesque. Behind him one sees usual Pierrot protagonist of the carnival. 

Light: : The whiteness of the dress of died and the clouds behind it light the scene in all the directions.

Colors : Contrast between hot and cold colors. 

Similar Paintings : 

James Ensor. Masks In front of Death. (1888). 
James Ensor. Singular Masks. (1892).
James Ensor. Death and Masks. (1897).