CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Retrospective Kees van Dongen

Exhibition: 25 June - 7 September 2008


Salle d’exposition du Quai Antoine Ier
4, Quai Antoine Ier – 1er étage
MC – 98000 Monaco
Tél. : +377 98 98 1962
Fax : + 377 93 50 9438

From the website of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, this first major retrospective of the work of Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) in North America – followed by an appearance at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona – will assemble the artist’s important paintings as well as drawings and ceramics. The exhibition will confirm the important Van Dongen played at the beginning of the twentieth century as the only portraitist among the Fauves. His brazen paintings, often compared to “prodigious debauches of light, heat and colour,” attest to his distinct style within modern art alongside his companions Matisse and Picasso. In light of new research and works previously little known, the artist’s career will be traced from his early days in Holland to his move to Paris and his participation in the illustrious Salon d’Automne of 1905, which established Fauvism as the new direction in modern art. Arresting paintings representing nudes and female figures dressed flirtatiously that nevertheless retain the sumptuous palette and rich impasto of his Fauvist works will be examined through the themes of exoticism, spectacle and orientalism. During the 1920s, Van Dongen circulated in high society, which earned him commissions for portraits of the most celebrated personalities of the period. The exhibition will also include an important group of these chic portraits from the Roaring Twenties, which, combined with a series of landscapes in saturated colours, will illustrate his mature period.

A famous member of the Fauves, Van Dongen was also a satirical illustrator and a portraitist of high society. A fascinated and often caustic witness to Parisian life from 1900 to the Roaring Twenties, he created his own form of modern art alongside Matisse and Picasso. His dazzling, shameless paintings – described as “torrential orgies of light, heat and colour” – depict both miserable and carefree societies, complete with demimondaines, socialites, anonymous Orientals and famous muses.

A major North American premiere, this exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. It also benefits from the support of the artist’s family.

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