Movement: Fauvism, Die Brücke
Kees van Dongen's Famous Artworks
“La Femme aux Bijoux,” 1895
“Portrait d’Adele Besson,” 1908
“Le Sphinx,” 1920
“Le Jardin,” 1924
“Place Pigalle la Nuit,” 1950
Kees van Dongen was a French painter of Dutch origin. He was well-known for his work connected with the Fauvist and Die Brücke movements, and is considered one of the leading painters of the École de Paris. Dongen's works have been exhibited at several galleries
Kees van Dongen's Early Years and Education
Cornelis Théodore Marie van Dongen was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Always interested in art, he joined the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam in 1892, when he finished his schooling. His professors were J. Striening and J.G. Heyberg, and he continued at the Academy for four years, during which time he often made illustrations for newspapers. He came into contact with another student at the Academy, Augusta Preitinger, with whom he fell in love. Kees van Dongen's paintings
from this period are of the sailors and prostitutes he encountered in the Red Quarter, the port area of the city.
Kees van Dongen's Beginning as an Artist
Van Dongen decided to visit Paris in 1897 to see what the art world there had to offer — he continued his stay for some time as he enjoyed it thoroughly. Augusta Preitinger, his wife-to-be, was living there by then, and he made the decision to move there in 1899. They married in 1901 and had two children together. Their first-born died soon after his birth, but a girl, Dolly, was born in 1905.
Van Dongen made a living primarily by making illustrations for journals and newspapers. He was then working towards the style that would come to be known as Fauvist. He exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1905, along with Matisse, André Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck, the nuclei of the Fauves.
Kees van Dongen's Middle Years
Van Dongen continued painting in the Fauvist style after other artists of the group had moved onto other genres. He had meanwhile become good friends with Picasso and was soon part of the artists’ circle of Paris. He often painted circus performers during these years. He had become a fashionable painter and his treatment of the erotic often created scandals that helped along his fame.
Van Dongen’s wife had gone to Rotterdam in 1914 with Dolly to visit their parents. She was unable to return to Paris because of the outbreak of World War I, and in her absence, van Dongen began a relationship with Jasmy Jacob, a fashion director. Augusta returned to Paris in 1918, and they divorced three years later.
Paris in the 1920s was famous for its extravagant lifestyle and Van Dongen became the chronicler of this period. It was at around this time that he began to make a reputation as a portraitist, especially of women. He became an admired society painter and was to receive many commissions through the 1920s. His relationship with Jasmy came to an end in 1927.
Kees van Dongen's Later Years, Death and Legacy
Despite the economic crash of 1929, van Dongen continued receiving commissions for portraits. He became a French citizen the same year. He made portraits of King Leopold III of Belgium, and another of the Aga Khan.
Van Dongen began a relationship with Marie-Claire Huguen in 1938, and they had a son, Jean-Marie, two years later. They married in 1953. A number of critics have said that his later society-work did not live up to the promise of his earlier, freer work.
Van Dongen and his family moved to Monaco in 1959. A number of retrospectives of his work were held in his last years. A large collection of his work can be seen at the New National Museum of Monaco. You can buy Kees van Dongen's artworks
Van Dongen died in Monte Carlo in 1968.
Kees van Dongen's Major Exhibitions
1904 - Galerie Vollard, Paris
1905 - Salon d’Automne, Paris
1908 - Exhibits with Die Brücke
1911 - Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris
1946 - Galerie dello Zodiaco, Rome, Italy
1967 - Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris
1972 - Galerie Paul Valloton, Lausanne, France
1974 - Seibu Galleries, Tokyo, Japan
1990 - Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
2008 - New National Museum of Monaco
2009 - Retrospective at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, Canada
Kees van Dongen's Museums/Collections
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Petit Palais, Geneva, Switzerland
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
“Van Dongen: Paparazzi des AnnéesFolles” by Elizabeth Couturier
“Le Dernier Tango de Kees van Dongen” by Francois Bott
“Kees van Dongen: The Graphic Work” by Jan Juffermans