Kees VAN DONGEN |
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Netherlands 1877 - 1968
1877-1899 : Delfshaven, Rotterdam
Born on 26th January 1877, in Delfshaven, a suburb of Rotterdam in mid polder, Kees Van Dongen studied at l'Académie des Arts et des Sciences de Rotterdam for four years. Three paintings evoke his youth and his beginnings as a painter in The Netherlands, including the impressive Autoportrait of 1895, kept in the Musée national d'art moderne in Paris.
1899-1914: Montmartre - Montparnasse
In 1899, he moved to Paris where he joined his partner, Augusta Preitinger, or Guus. Her sensitive nature subsequently brought him closer to radical milieus. He met the writer Félix Fénéon with whom he formed a deep and lasting friendship. For a while, he abandoned painting to devote himself to the illustration of political and social publications. His favourite subject was the environment of prostitutes and courtesans, a central theme that he was to develop further (Les entraîneuses, circa 1905; Nini la parisienne, between 1906 and 1910; Les péripatéticiennes, circa 1920).
As a resident of Montmartre (La parisienne de Montmartre, 1903 or 1911), he was well acquainted with the mythical areas of the district (Le Moulin de la Galette, 1904; Le violoncelliste du Moulin de la Galette, 1904; Le Moulin Rouge, 1900-1905 etc.). He often visited Médrano and happily painted the circus artists (L'écuyère, 1906; Le vieux clown, between 1906 and 1911etc.).
In 1906, he rented a studio in Bateau-Lavoir where Fernande Olivier, Picasso's partner, inspired him to paint magnificent portraits (Fernande Olivier, 1907). Van Dongen forayed into neo-impressionism during a stay in Fleury-en-Bière in the summer of 1905 (La Vigne, 1905; La maison à Fleury, 1905). In Paris, he worked on the series of steam-powered merry-go-rounds (Le manège aux cochons, 1904), which combined his illustrative talent with his intuitive flair for colour. At the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, he presented Le boniment, an innovative canvas that vividly translated his love of colour and movement. The same year, he took part in the Salon d'Automne during which the critic Louis Vauxcelles coined the term the " Fauvists ".
Van Dongen was equally at ease depicting his happy family life, with Guus and their daughter, Dolly (Mère et enfant, 1906). Sales to the Bernheim-Jeune gallery, then exhibitions with Ambroise Vollard and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler followed. Sought after by the "Brucke" artists, he joined the group in Germany and acquired a certain notoriety there.
From 1910, he regularly travelled to Spain, Morocco, and Egypt, all in the beautiful Mediterranean (El Manton, Andalucia, 1910-1911; Marchande d'herbes, 1912; Fatimah Ismael de Louxor, 1913 etc.). When he presented Tableau (also called Le châle espagnol, La femme aux pigeons or Le mendiant d'amour) at the Salon d'Automne in 1913, scandal was instant and the piece, deemed obscene, was seized by the police. When war broke out, his wife Guus and their daughter Dolly left for Rotterdam, where they stayed for four years.
1914-1968: portrait of an era Having stayed in Paris, Kees met Léa Jacob, more often called Jasmy (Portrait de Jasmy Alvin née Léa Jacob 1925), the pair set out to conquer all of Paris. Praise and social events followed (Autoportrait en Neptune, 1922). Van Dongen began to paint some of the Parisian high bourgeoisie (Marie-Thérèse Raulet, circa 1920; Anne Diriart, circa 1924; Yves Mirande, 1924; La Commodore Drouilly, 1926; Madame T., 1929; Louis Barthou, 1931; Paul Pétridès, circa 1957 etc.).
But his participation in a trip to Berlin in 1941 was fiercely criticised. His exhibition the following year at the Charpentier gallery was boycotted by several of his friends, artists, critics and collectors.
After the war, Van Dongen split his time between Paris, Deauville and Monaco where he bought a villa in 1949, which he named " Le Bateau-Lavoir ". That year, the Charpentier Gallery organised a new exhibition of his work, which was an outstanding success and was shown again by the Musée Boymans in Rotterdam, his town of birth.
A respected artist whose work the Musée national d'Art moderne de Paris and, once again, the Musée Boymans both exhibited in 1967, Van Dongen's death on 23rd May 1968 went almost unnoticed during the uprisings of that summer. Since then, the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris organised a major exhibition on the rediscovery of Van Dongen's work in 1990. ...
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