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James Ensor
The Astonishment of the Mask Wouse
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
© 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS) / SABAM
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by Charlie Finch

"James Ensor," June 28-Sept. 21, 2009, at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street New York, N.Y. 10019

James Ensor looked like the children’s character Lemony Snicket. His self-portraits, the centerpiece of a retrospective opening at the Museum of Modern Art, are the jumping off point of a fantastic hodgepodge of bad painting, half-baked influences, droll asides, stunning miniatures and all-around eccentricity that fascinates when it doesn’t repel one’s good taste.