Art: Ensor: Much Possessed by Death

There was once, in the West, a tradition of demonic art. It no longer exists because—The Exorcist and other light satanic amusements notwithstanding—nobody much believes in devils any more. Perhaps the last significant European painter who did believe in them, and was able to project his anxieties onto them and make the demonic a chief theme of his work, died in 1949.

He was James Ensor, and in the paintings he made in the last two decades of the 19th century, the characters and props of the demonic tradition take their final curtain call:...

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