A world-class exhibition to match the extraordinary artistic verve of Kees van Dongen was presented in autumn 2010. The exhibition ended 23 January 2011 with over 205.000 visitors.
All Eyes on Kees van Dongen showcased some eighty masterpieces by the renowned painter Kees van Dongen. No fewer than sixty paintings and a selection of drawings, ceramics, posters and photographs were being flown over from leading international collections especially for the exhibition. They were coming from as far afield as New York, Monaco, Geneva and Moscow.
So many women
All Eyes on Kees van Dongen will present a wide-ranging view of this Dutch-born artist, who became world famous in Paris for his colourful portraits of women. Women with huge eyes, acrobats, nudes, women dressed in couture by the designer Paul Poiret and women Van Dongen painted during his trips to far-flung places. Van Dongen shared a studio with Pablo Picasso in Paris and immortalized his mistress as well as his own lovers and other close female friends. Sometimes Van Dongen painted men too, among them his father, the boxer Jack Johnson and several jazz artistes.
From Delfshaven to Paris
Cornelis Theodorus Maria van Dongen was born on 26 January 1877 in Delfshaven, then still a small independent port near Rotterdam. At the age of fifteen, Kees began drawing lessons at what is now the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Three years later he was able to earn a living as a draughtsman and he worked for several newspapers including Het Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad. In 1897 Van Dongen went to Paris for the first time to continue his training as a draughtsman.
Society artist and Bohemian
Van Dongen blossomed in Paris—the left-wing illustrator became a celebrated artist. His success came through his association with Fauvism, the first major avant-garde movement. Van Dongen was notorious for his contemporary use of colour, paint and electric light—and almost as much for his lifestyle. His lavish studio parties in the 1920s and 30s were attended by film stars, famous politicians and artists. What Andy Warhol was to New York in the 1960s, Kees van Dongen was to the Paris of the 1920s—a society artist and Bohemian who brought added colour and excitement to the city
The exhibition includes paintings Van Dongen made during a trip to Rotterdam in 1907, among them the vivid ‘Modjesko’, works inspired by the Folies-Bergères and the most daring Parisian works, including the monumental nude of his wife Guus. Important, too, are the works he painted during and after his trips to Spain, Morocco and Egypt. These alluring, experimental portraits of women, with Oriental influences, intense colours and decorative accents, are among his best works. All Eyes on Kees van Dongen presents a unique opportunity to see the cream of the artist’s masterpieces in one place.
The exhibition was 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.