Kees van Dongen
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|Kees van Dongen|
Kees van Dongen in 1938
|Born||Cornelis Theodorus Maria van Dongen
26 January 1877
|Died||28 May 1968
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Life and work
Kees van Dongen was born in Delfshaven, then on the outskirts, and today a borough, of Rotterdam. He was the second of four children in a middle-class family. In 1892, at age 16, Kees van Dongen started his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam, working with J. Striening and J.G. Heyberg. During this period (1892-97), van Dongen frequented the Red Quarter seaport area, where he drew scenes of sailors and prostitutes. He met Augusta Preitinger at the Academy, a fellow painter.
In 1897, van Dongen lived in Paris for several months, where there was a large emigre community. In December 1899 he returned from Rotterdam to Paris, where Preitinger had moved before him and found work.
Marriage and family
He returned to join Augusta Preitinger ("Guus"), whom he had met at the Academy. They married on 11 July 1901. They had two children together, a son who died a couple of days after birth in December 1901. Their daughter Augusta, called "Dolly", was born April 18, 1905.
Guus took Dolly to see their families in Rotterdam in the summer of 1914, where they were caught by the outbreak of World War I. They were not able to return to Paris until 1918. Preitinger and van Dongen divorced in 1921.
Van Dongen began to exhibit in Paris, and participated in the controversial 1905 Salon d'Automne exhibition. Other painters included Henri Matisse. The bright colours of this group of artists led to them being called Fauves ('Wild Beasts'). Van Dongen was also briefly a member of the German Expressionist group Die Brücke.
In these years he was part of an avant-garde wave of painters, including Maurice de Vlaminck, Othon Friesz, Henri Rousseau, Robert Delaunay, Albert Marquet, Édouard Vuillard, who aspired to a renewal of painting which they thought was stuck in neo-impressionism.
In addition to selling his paintings, van Dongen also gained an income by selling satirical sketches to the newspaper Revue Blanche. He also organised very successful costume balls in Montparnasse, to which people paid admission, to gain extra income.
After the First World War, under the influence of his companion, the fashion director Lea Alvin (Jasmy Jacob), among others, van Dongen developed the lush colours of his Fauvist style. This earned him a solid reputation with the French bourgeoisie and upper class, where he was in demand for his portraits. As a fashionable portraitist, he was commissioned for subjects including Arletty, Louis Barthou, Sacha Guitry, Leopold III of Belgium, Anna de Noailles and Maurice Chevalier.
With a playful cynicism he remarked of his popularity as a portraitist with high society women, "The essential thing is to elongate the women and especially to make them slim. After that it just remains to enlarge their jewels. They are ravished." This remark is reminiscent of another of his sayings: "Painting is the most beautiful of lies".
In 1926, he was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honour, and in 1927 the Order of the Crown of Belgium in recognition of his contributions to art. In 1929, the French government awarded him citizenship. Two of his works were collected that year by the Musée du Luxembourg.
The social and commercial appeal of his later work (such as a 1959 portrait of Brigitte Bardot in a little black dress, with her hair tousled) did not match the artistic promise or the bohemian eroticism of his first three decades of work.
References and sources
- Russell T. Clement, Les Fauves: A Sourcebook, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994, pp. 467-468, accessed 1 February 2013
- "Guus Preitinger". Rijksbureau voor Kunsthorische Documentatie. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Clement (1994), p. 470
- Jones, Jonathan. Torso, also known as The Idol, Kees van Dongen (1905)", The Guardian, 19 October 2002. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
- Les Fauves: A Sourcebook, Russell T. Clement, page 471
- Clement (1994), p. 466
- "Kees Van Dongen". Kees van Dongen L'Atelier. New National of Monaco. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Engers, Rudolf (2002). Het kleurrijke leven van Kees van Dongen. ISBN 978-90-5594-266-4.
- Gaston Diehl, "Van Dongen", Crown Publishers, Inc, New York.
- Ed. des Courières (1925). "Van Dongen" Henri Floury, Éditeur.
- Jan Juffermans (2003). "Kees van Dongen: The Graphic Work" Lund Humphries Publishers, ISBN 0-85331-876-X
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kees van Dongen.|
- Kees van Dongen on Artnet
- All Eyes on Kees van Dongen video at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (Arttube)
- Interview with Jean-Marie van Dongen, son of Kees van Dongen, about his father video at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (Arttube)