Kees van Dongen

Netherlands / France / 1877 - 1968 / wikipedia / /
Cornelis Theodorus Maria 'Kees' van Dongen (26 Jan. 1877- 28 May 1968); Dutch-French painter and one of the Fauves at the controversial 1905 Salon d'Automne exhibition. He gained a reputation for his sensuous, at times garish, portraits.

Born in Delfshaven, then on the outskirts, now a borough, of Rotterdam.... In 1892, at 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 Dec. 1899 he returned from Rotterdam to Paris, where Preitinger had moved before him and found work.

...Van Dongen began to exhibit in Paris, and participated in the controversial 1905 Salon d'Automne exhibition along with Matisse, André Derain, Albert Marquet, de Vlaminck, Charles Camoin, and Jean Puy. The bright colors of this group of artists led to them being called Fauves (Wild Beasts) by art critic Louis Vauxcelles. 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 de Vlaminck, Othon Friesz, Rousseau, Robert Delaunay, Albert Marquet,Vuillard, who aspired to a renewal of painting which they thought was stuck in neo-impressionism.

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."...
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Leks Prokop


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