All Eyes on Kees van Dongen

Kees van Dongen, A Finger on her Cheek, C. 1910, Oil on cloth, 65 x 54 cm, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo John Tromp
Kees van Dongen, A Finger on her Cheek, C. 1910, Oil on cloth, 65 x 54 cm, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo John Tromp

Kees van Dongen
A Major Exhibition of Paintings
18 September 2010 - 23 January 2011 

Over sixty masterpieces by the renowned Dutch artist Kees van Dongen will soon be shown together for the first time in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. ‘Kees van Dongen – His Path to Fame’ uses these highlights to shed light on his early period, his breakthrough, his travels and his later success.

This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is staging a major exhibition of paintings by the internationally renowned artist Kees van Dongen (1877-1968). The exhibition features a judiciously chosen selection of eighty works from top international collections that have rarely been loaned out or have not been seen in the Netherlands for many years. These highlights of his oeuvre come from both private and public collections, from as far afield as New York, Paris, Istanbul and Moscow.

Rotterdam-born Kees van Dongen was followed by the world’s press from ‘Paris to Tokyo’. The internationally famous artist also cut a flamboyant figure in Paris. Van Dongen’s lifestyle was controversial; his lavish nightly studio parties were attended by film stars, famous politicians and artists. ‘Woman’ was his muse, her body his landscape, and the young Brigitte Bardot his most famous model. What Andy Warhol was to New York in the 1960s, Kees van Dongen was to Paris—a society artist and Bohemian who brought added colour and excitement to the city from the Roaring Twenties onwards. Van Dongen received various French awards, shared a studio with Picasso and took French nationality in 1929. In the Netherlands of his time, Van Dongen was essentially seen as the Dutch artist who was a success abroad. Today his colourful paintings sell for record prices and his name gets more than a hundred thousand hits on the Internet.

Kees van Dongen – His Path to Fame in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will show representative examples of Van Dongen’s portraiture and extravagant works created in his Paris studios. The works with which Van Dongen impressed the Salons and avant-garde exhibitions in Paris will also be seen in Rotterdam. The paintings he made on his trips to Egypt, Spain and Morocco (1910 -13) are an important feature of the exhibition. These alluring portraits of women, with their oriental influences, intense colours and sumptuous decorative accents, are among his best works. The exhibition ends with acrobats, provocative women, nightlife scenes and paintings dating from his first years in Paris and Rotterdam. Alongside the paintings there is a small selection of drawings, ceramics, posters and a great many photographs.

Artists’ Circles
For the last two years, guest curator Anita Hopmans has been carrying out in-depth art-historical research into Kees van Dongen. She has discovered many new facts about his years in Paris, which she is incorporating into the current exhibition. She looked for works with which Van Dongen attracted the attention at the art fairs and played a role in the artists’ circles of his time. It is, in short, an exhibition of works that mark Van Dongen’s road to success. Kees van Dongen – His Path to Fame in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is a unique opportunity to see Van Dongen at his best.

Catalogue & Events
A lavishly illustrated catalogue with essays by Anita Hopmans will be published prior to the exhibition. In English and Dutch, it will be on sale internationally. There will be various workshops and lectures while the exhibition is running. For more information:


The exhibition has been made possible by our chief sponsor, Unilever; our chief patron, the Turing Foundation; OC&C Strategy Consultants; Bank Giro Loterij, the Straver Fonds, administered by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds; Ploum Lodder Princen, Stichting Bevordering Van Volkskracht; Stichting Gifted Art  and through an indemnity grant provided by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. ‘All Eyes on Kees van Dongen’ is part of the official programme of  Holland Art Cities 2009-2010.