This autumn, for the first time, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
is showing the recently restored work A Finger on her Cheek by Kees van Dongen in its original state in All Eyes on Kees van Dongen, an exhibition that also features some sixty other key masterpieces from international collections.
This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is staging a major exhibition of paintings by the internationally renowned artist Kees van Dongen (1877-1968). The thoughtful selection of eighty works -around sixty paintings- is being flown to Rotterdam from leading international collections. These highlights of his oeuvre come from both private and public collections, from as far afield as New York, Monaco, Geneva and Moscow. Many of the works have rarely been loaned out or have not been seen in the Netherlands for many years. A Finger on her Cheek, part of the museums permanent collection, has recently been restored and can be seen for the first time in its original state from 18 September. The colours are now as brilliant as they were in 1910.
Cornelis Theodorus Maria van Dongen was born on 26 January 1877 in Delfshaven, then still a small independent port near Rotterdam. After drawing lessons at what is now the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Van Dongen worked for several newspapers including Het Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad. In 1897 he went to Paris for the first time to continue his training as a draughtsman. Van Dongen the left-wing illustrator became a celebrated artist by way of the avant-garde movements of his time.
Van Dongen was notorious for his contemporary use of colour, paint and electric lightand 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 1920sa society artist and Bohemian who brought added colour and excitement to the city. The artist 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.
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. The exhibition ends with acrobats, provocative women, nightlife scenes and paintings dating from his first years in Paris and Rotterdam. Alongside the sixty paintings there is a selection of drawings, ceramics, posters and a great many photographs.
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.
A lavishly illustrated catalogue with essays by Anita Hopmans will be published along with the exhibition. In English and Dutch, it will be on sale internationally. There will be various workshops and lectures while the exhibition is running.