Monday, May 30, 2011

All Eyes on Kees van Dongen in Paris

The exhibition "Van Dongen: Fauve, anarchist, socialite" at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presents the work of a painter who was once called "The Idol of Paris" at the height of his fame. Known for his portraits of Parisian socialites, this prolific painter was also the driving force behind Fauvism. Van Dongen was born in Rotterdam in 1877 and died in Monaco at the age of 91.

Kees van Dongen was only twenty years old when he moved to Paris. Anxious to conceal his beginnings as a draughtsman, he cultivated the myth of a meteoric rise to fame as an artist. In fact, he was quite calculated in his approach to his career by befriending art critics and society patrons with regular salon and studio parties. Included in his circle of influential friends was the couturier Paul Poiret and the eccentric Italian muse Marchesa Luisa Casati. Although van Dongen also painted Paris landscapes, interiors, circus performers and other works, I was most captivated by his society portraits.  Slightly abstracted and stylized, these portraits beautifully document the fashions of the 1920s and 1930s.
The exhibition includes approximately 90 paintings and drawings, as well as ceramics, dating from 1895 to the early 1930s. Designed in association with the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, this exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris runs until July 17, 2011. The exhibition catalogue called All Eyes on Kees van Dongen (available in both French and English) provides a comprehensive history of the artist's work and life.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11 avenue du President Wilson
75116 Paris