Belgian painter and sculptor; the leading Flemish Expressionist. Born at Antwerp, son of a landscape painter who later became director of the Museum at Ostend. Studied 1903-6 at Bruges Academy and 1906-8 at the Academy in Ghent, where he met Frits Van den Berghe and the brothers Gustave and Léon De Smet. Lived in Laethem-Saint-Martin 1909-12, then in Ostend 1912-14. Called up in 1914, severely wounded and evacuated to England, where in 1916-17 he painted some of his first truly characteristic pictures at Chardstock, Devon. After the war returned to Ostend. Painted pictures of the fisherfolk of the port, predominantly in browns and blacks, with monumental, vigorously distorted forms; also made a series of seascapes. First one-man exhibition at La Licorne, Paris, 1921. From 1925 made regular visits to Jabbeke, a village inland between Ostend and Bruges, and settled there 1930. Turned to painting peasant scenes and landscapes, and in 1937 also began to make sculptures, mainly of female nudes. Died in Ostend.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.585