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Kees van DONGEN

Kees Van Dongen was born in 1877 in Rotterdam’s suburbs, in a wealthy family who was never opposed to his vocation. He integrated the Royal Academy of Painting, where he met his future wifeAugusta Preitinger. He exhibited for the first time at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdamin 1895. In 1897, he settled in Paris thanks to his family’s financial help and the money earned through little jobs. He collaborated with numerous satirical newspapers. His ink drawings enhanced by watercolors perfectly suited the job, expressing popular thèmes with fierceness and clarity. Influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, he entirely illustrated the 26th of October issue devoted to the life of prostitutes, entitled “Petite histoire pour petits et grands enfants” (Short story for little and big children). In 1903, he integrated “La Revue Blanche” (The White Review) thanks to Félix Fénéon, who occupied important functions. In his later works, heavily made up women suited his bright palette which announced fauvism. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1904 under Luce’s advice, but it is his exhibition inVollard’s place that brought him to the Parisian artistic world. In 1905, Van

Dongen’s style changed to brutal realism and fauvism. He became friends with Derain and Vlaminck.At the Salon d’Automne of the same year, he presented “Torse”, the work which marked not only his affiliation with fauvism but that also enabled him to become the painter Of Women. This style, which was now his own, made him a Fauve, but he forever constituted an exception within the group. In 1906, he moved to Bateau-Lavoir where he met Picasso. From 1906 to 1909, he developed two major themes: public girls and circus. In 1907, Van Dongen signed a contract with H:D: Kanhweiler, but his exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune at the end of November definitely opened the doors to fame. The success of his exhibitions allowed him to comfortably settle at 33, rue Denfert-Rochereau in Montparnasse, where he organized receptions and costume parties, which were attended by the Parisian elite.

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