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Masked Brawl

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

James Ensor, Belgian, 1860–1949, The Intrigue, 1911, Gift of Mrs. John S. Pillsbury, Sr. ©2000 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In this painting, James Ensor, a pioneer of Expressionism, employs grotesque masks to both conceal and reveal. The central subjects are his sister, Mariette, in blue hair and green cape, with her top-hatted fiancé, Tan Hée Tseu, a Chinese art dealer from Berlin. The couple’s engagement had caused a scandal in the hometown of the Ensor family  and the artist, in retaliation, depicts the town gossips, disguised in their masks, who have come out to gawk and laugh.

More at artsconnected.org

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