Léon Spilliaert, Belgian Symbolist
Léon Spilliaert is one of the most famous Belgian Symbolist painters. He was born in Ostend in 1881 and died in Brussels in 1946. He was passionate about painting and literature from a young age. He entered the Bruges Academy at 18, but quit his studies after a few months. He worked for Edmond Deman, a well-known Brussels publisher in 1903 and 1904.
He gradually made his name in the art world from 1907 to 1913. His works were exhibited in many places: Jean de Mot's Salon de Printemps, the Salon des Indépendants de Bruxelles, the Salon Doe stil voort and the Les Bleus de la G.G.G. exhibition.
He married Rachel Vergison in 1916 and moved to Brussels with her, where their daughter was born. After the war, he worked with the Sélection group which exhibited his works for several years. The first exhibition totally dedicated to his paintings was held in Le Centaure gallery in Brussels in 1922. He exhibited at the Kursaal in Ostend from 1925 to 1931 and, in 1937, he joined the Compagnons de l’Art.
Léon Spilliaert died in November 1946. He had produced a large number of works consisting primarily of empty spaces like beaches and seascapes inspired by Ostend. He also painted self-portraits. His works are somewhat melancholy and sad. The artist was a master of chiaroscuro. He used a number of different media including gouache, watercolours and pastels.
His best-known works are La buveuse d’absinthe (1904), L'autoportrait (1908), Clair de lune et lumières (1909), La Poursuite (1910), Le Tunnel (1935), and Le parc royal à Bruxelles (1917). Today, you can admire some of his works at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Art Museum by the Sea in Ostend (Mu.ZEE) and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The latter will be hosting a Léon Spilliaert exhibition in 2020.
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