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Lonely Fernard Khnopff

Lonely Fernard Khnopff

Fernand Edmond Jean Marie Khnopff (Grembergen 1858 – 1921 Brussels) was one of Belgium's greatest symbolist painters, sculptors, and designers. Symbolist artists utilized dreams to access a world beyond appearances, seeking to discover what lay behind the visible world. 


Fernand spent his early childhood in Bruges but later moved with his parents to Brussels. They spent summers in the Ardennes village of Fosset, where he would later paint many landscapes. Initially studying law at his father's insistence, he switched after a year to attend the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts, where James Ensor was one of his fellow students. He also encountered Guillaume Van Strijdonck, Jean Delville, Egide Rombaux, and Adolphe Crespin.

During a trip to Paris in 1877, he was influenced by Delacroix, and in England, he became acquainted with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He used this Greek god of Sleep often, to illustrate the alternate reality. Around 1880, Khnopff studied for about six months in Paris in the workshop of the celebrated Jules Lefebvre. He became a skilled practitioner of French poetry and a translator of many Dutch and English masterpieces. While visiting the British Museum, he became fascinated by an antique bronze head of Hypnos with a missing wing.

He lived with his mother Léonie until the age of 42. His sister Marguerite, with whom he had a very intimate bond, was his other favorite model. In 1908, he married Marthe Worms, a widow with two children, from whom he divorced three years later. Khnopff had a reserved personality and was a loner who found it difficult to connect with others. A well-known quote of his was "on n'a que soi" (one has only oneself). When multiple people are present in his paintings, they seem to have little contact. Most of his works exude a mysterious, eerie atmosphere. His characters often display androgynous features. He often used two types of women in his work: the femme fatale or the ideal woman (sphinx and angel). They are often ambiguous and seem absent. Perhaps his most famous masterpiece is "The Caress" from 1896, an image of Oedipus reclining against the Sphinx.

He often took photos that he later developed into sketches or worked on directly in pastel. There are certain similarities between photography and Khnopff's style. He worked slowly but with a very meticulous and steady hand. His paintings and drawings are filled with small details, such as the perfect rendering of skin texture. He blurred the lines of the figures, much like pictorialist photographers did. The fading figures and landscapes represent the impression of loss and absence. His use of pastel colors also contributes to this dreamlike atmosphere. His style inspired artists like Munch, Klimt, and Magritte.

In 1883, he co-founded the Groupe Les XX. He also exhibited at the Paris Salons de la Rose-Croix of his friend Joséphin Péladan and at the Vienna Secession. Publisher Edmond Deman frequently asked him for illustrations for books, providing a source of income. In 1900, with the assistance of Belgian architect Edouard Pelseneer (1870-1947), he designed an esoteric multi-functional building that served as a residence and studio, but also as a Gesamtkunstwerk. The decoration consisted only of the colors white, blue, and gold, with black used for doors and windows. The house was demolished in 1938.


Khnopff-1889-Marguerite-Musee des Beaux Arts

1889-Marguerite-Musee des Beaux Arts

Khnopff-1894-Fosset

Khnopff-1894-Fosset

Fernand_Khnopff-1896-de liefkozing-kmskb

 Fernand_Khnopff-1896-de liefkozing-kmskb

Khnopff-1898-English Lady-Musee D'orsay

Khnopff-1898-English Lady-Musee D'orsay

Khnoff-Memories

Memories

Khnoff-1904-Une Ville abandonnee

Khnoff-1904-Une Ville abandonnee

 

 

 

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