Léon Spilliaert, Marine Dorée, 1921
Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946) was a Belgian painter and graphic artist. Generally considered a symbolist, his work also tends toward Surrealism, Expressionism, and occasionally Cubism. Born in Ostend, Spilliaert was the oldest of seven children. He displayed an aptitude for art at an early age, constantly drawing and doodling. He was mostly self-taught and an auto-didact. His first job was in Brussels, illustrating the works of Symbolist writers for a small publishing company. His earliest works already express Spilliaert's signature style, with strong lines, exaggerated forms, and expressive use of black. Nevertheless, his oeuvre demonstrates considerable variety. Spilliaert applied his unique aesthetic to portraits (including multiple varied self-portraits), landscape, seascape, and many works that defy such classification. His two most famous pieces are Clair de Lunes et Lumières (Moonlight and Light, 1909) and Digue la Nuit (Dyke at Night, 1913). Marine Dorée is much more colorful than most of Spilliaert's paintings–bright and golden, with rich and intense colors. This is a powerful sunset that colors the whole world orange. The colors swirl throughout the canvas like the waters and winds they represent. In this painting, it is difficult to see exactly where land ends and water begins, they are so intertwined. The people appear to be standing on the beach or in the shallows, at the border of the two spaces. Clouds and waves form and reform as golden light flows through the scene.