Van Dongen, Kees

Kees Van Dongen, born in 1877 and died in 1968, was a painter initially close to German Expressionism, who later turned to a more worldly style and became the painter of Parisian celebrities in the early 20th century. Read the biography

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Born near Rotterdam, Kees Van Dongen attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and began painting by studying harbor scenes and female bodies. Arriving in Paris in 1901, he met Félix Fénéon and caused a scandal by painting withHenri Matisse at the Salon d'Automne in 1905, where the beginnings of Fauvist painting provoked fierce criticism. He settled in Montmartre in 1906, at the Bateau-Lavoir, and gave his watercolors to newspapers alongside a number of exhibitions. Close to the French Fauvists and above all the German Expressionists, he exhibited drawings for the Expressionist group. Die BrückeHe began to enjoy success around 1910, when he signed a contract with the Bernheim - Jeune gallery. He then turned to a more worldly style, in contact with the Marquise Casati, and became the painter of Parisian celebrities. Awarded the Légion d'Honneur in 1926, he became a naturalized French citizen in 1929. He continued to paint portraits until the 1930s, when he returned to landscapes. Van Dongen was compromised by contact with Nazi Germany when he took part in a trip organized by the Third Reich in 1941, but this did not tarnish his reputation, and he continued to paint society portraits thereafter. He moved to Monaco in 1959, to a villa he named the Bateau-Lavoir, in memory of his years in Montmartre. He lived there until the end of his life in 1968.