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Kees Van Dongen: The Dutch-French Fauvist Master

Kees Van Dongen 1877 - 1968, a highly influential Dutch-French painter, began his artistic journey with classical training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Initially, his works reflected an Impressionist style, but by the early 1900s, Van Dongen's art evolved dramatically. His brushwork became more emotive and his palette exploded with aggressive, bright colors. This transformation was undoubtedly influenced by his acquaintance with Henri Matisse. Both artists participated in the Salon d’Automne of 1905, leading the Fauvist movement together.

La Femme au canapé

Van Dongen had a distinct fascination with women, often portraying them in a sensuous, symbolic manner with lush, vivid colors. His portraits earned him a solid reputation among the French bourgeoisie and upper class. He once described his approach to painting women, saying, "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."

Femme nue allongeé

Throughout his illustrious career, Van Dongen remained faithful to the Fauvist style. Although he painted a portrait of Brigitte Bardot that is not considered his finest work, it is a classic example of his style. His reputation was further enhanced through a contract with Pablo Picasso’s dealer,

Brigitte Bardot

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, in 1907. Beyond his focus on women, Van Dongen frequently depicted the vibrant nightlife, with dancers, singers, masquerades, and theatre scenes being predominant subjects in his work.

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