Léon Spilliaert (1881–1946) was born in the coastal town of Ostend. He moved to Brussels at the age of 20, and would live and work between the two cities for the rest of his life. Self-taught, he forged his own artistic identity, which was shaped by the affinity he felt with writers and thinkers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Spilliaert’s work is characterised by dramatic perspectives and a quiet luminescence. He is best known for a sequence of enigmatic self-portraits and for his atmospheric night-time scenes of Ostend. His visual explorations of the self and potent images of solitude align him with European modernists such as Edvard Munch and Vilhelm Hammershøi.
This is the first monographic exhibition of Spilliaert’s work in the UK and will showcase some 80 works on paper – from images of his home town and the coast, to later works capturing the tranquillity of the forest outside Brussels. It will bring together works from public and private collections across Belgium, France and the USA, presenting a journey through the lifetime of a remarkably insightful and unusual artist.
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in collaboration with the Musée d‘Orsay, Paris.
The Léon Spilliaert exhibition is being held in the Royal Academy of Arts from 23th February — 25th May 2020.