Rooted in the Symbolist tradition of the fin-de-siècle
and drawn to the avant-garde, Léon Spilliaert (1881–1946), was a loner who never occupied a clear place in the art of his time. He shared not only his home port of Ostend with James Ensor, but also his sense of mockery and irony, non-conformity and an urge to view the world differently. Spilliaert, however, created a spiritual visual language of his own, experimenting with pastels and gouache, playing with purified expanses of colour and elegant lines. The moonlit sea, solitary, vacantly gazing figures, beaches stripped of all human presence, empty rooms and stylized, backlit silhouettes – Spilliaert invariably evoked an atmosphere of mystery, magic and alienation in line and colour.
Anne Adriaens-Pannier, former curator at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, has been working on the catalogue raisonné
of his oeuvre since 1995 at the Spilliaert family’s request. She pays tribute to the artist with this beautifully illustrated book, in which she describes his drawings and paintings, as well as referring to his book illustrations and lithographs. The author presents Spilliaert as a link between the major art movements in the fascinating era in which he lived and worked. A unique book about an exceptional artist.