KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
Kees van Dongen, in full Cornelis Theodorus Marie van Dongen (born Jan. 26, 1877, Delfshaven, The Netherlands - died May 28, 1968, Monte Carlo, Monaco), was a Dutch-born French painter and printmaker who was one of the leading Fauvists and was particularly renowned for his stylised and sensuously-rendered portraits of women.
Van Dongen had artistic leanings early in his youth. He first attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam before moving to Paris at age 20. In the bohemian atmosphere of the Montmartre district, he worked as a house painter, an illustrator for satirical papers, and a café artist.
Van Dongen initially worked in an Impressionist manner, but in the early 1900s his colours became more vivid and concentrated. After being introduced to Henri Matisse, van Dongen participated in the famous Salon d'Automne of 1905, where the group Les Fauves(« Wild Beast ») earned its epithet due to the artists' aggressive and emotive brushwork, and pure, unblended colours. His reputation grew as soon as he was contracted by Pablo Picasso's dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in 1907. Van Dongen also exhibited with the German Expressionist group Die Brücke (« The Bridge ») in 1908, but remained committed to Fauvism.
Van Dongen's candid, colourful portrait style was immensely fashionable by the end of World War I, and thereafter remained his main focus. The figure of a glamorous woman with large eyes and red lips became his archetype. His portrait of the writer Anatole France (1917) is particularly notable. In addition to portrait paintings, van Dongen also produced lithographs, and painted richly coloured seascapes and scenes of Paris in an assured, economical style.
← Back to artists list