Although often associated with the key figures of Belgian Symbolism, Léon Spilliaert in fact demonstrated a peculiarly individual style. Born in Ostend, he worked there for most of his career. An introvert and insomniac who suffered from poor health as a young man, Spilliaert wandered the night-time streets of the North Sea resort, creating mysterious and highly atmospheric depictions of its dark docks, beaches and promenades. Almost entirely self-taught, he drew influence from such painters as Odilon Redon and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, as well as the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Friedrich Nietzsche.
This book brings together over a hundred works from international collections, including a series of haunting self-portraits that Spilliaert created in his twenties. Authoritative authors discuss the artist's singular approach and put his career in context alongside that of his more famous compatriot and contemporary James Ensor.
This book accompanies an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (23 February - 25 May 2020). The exhibition then travels to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris (15 June - 13 September 2020).