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 Kees (Cornelis Theodorus Maria) Van Dongen  (1877 - 1968)

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Lived/Active: Netherlands/Holland/France      Known for: fauve and expressionist painting-aristocratic portraits

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from Auction House Records.
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© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Bold vibrant colors used in paintings of socialites, prostitutes, dancers and circus people are the works of Kees van Dongen.  During his life, he was part of both the fauvism and expressionism Modern Art movements.

Born Cornelis Theodorus Marie van Dongen in Delfshaven Holland on January 26, 1877, he began studies at the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in 1892 where he met his first wife, artist Augusta (Guus) Prettinger.  While studying at the Academy he worked as an illustrator and sketch artist for the newspaper Rotterdam Nieuwsblad.  In 1897 he visited Paris and moved there in 1899 working for Le Rire, Gil Blas, La Revue Blanche and Assiette au Beurre.

In 1905 van Dogen’s works were exhibited at the Salon des Independents and the Salon d’Automne along with works by Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck and Andre Derain.  Two of those works were portraits of his wife.  This group of artist became known as the fauves “wild beasts” for their strong use of bright colors.  By 1907 the group began to search new avenues of painting, except for Kees, who continued in the style for the remainder of his life.  During this time, he became friends with Pablo Picasso and began using circus people for his subjects though he continued portraits of socialites.  Another group of artist he became a member of was the German Expressionist “Die Brücke” and exhibited with them in 1908.  

By the late 1920s he was awarded the Legion of Honour, the Order of the Crown of Belgium and two works were admitted to the Musee du Luxembourg.  In 1929 van Dongen obtained French citizenship.  He also wrote a biography about Rembrandt and intertwined his own life into the book around 1927, who he modeled several of his early works after.  

Throughout the 1930s and 40s Kees van Dongen continued to paint portraits of the upper class, landscapes and illustrations for books.  He also met his second wife Marie-Claire Huguen who helped him regain interest in the art scene.  After WWII, he was banned from the Salon d’Automne for one year because of a Nazi propaganda trip he took to Germany in 1941. He later moved to Monaco and on May 28, 1968, Kees van Dogen died at his home in Monte Carlo.

Sources:
Wikipedia – www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kees_van_Dongen
Bookrags – www.bookrags.com/biography/kees-van-dongen/
Guardian News and Media – www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2002/oct/19/art - article “Torso, also known as the Idol, Kees van Dongen (1905)” by Jonathan Jones
Art Directory – www.kees-van-dongen.com
Art & Antiques – www.artandantiquesmag.com – article “The Forgotten Fauve” by Shelia Gibson Stoodley 01/01/2009


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