Van Dongen exhibition at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Kees Van Dongen
A Fauve in the City
Exhibition: January 22 > April 19, 2009

Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, the first major retrospective of the art of Kees van Dongen (1877-1968 ) in North America will be presented from January 22 to April 19, 2009.

Kees Van Dongen


Kees Van Dongen [1877 – 1968]
Woman on a Sofa
About 1930
Oil on cancas
89,2 x 166,8 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of Dr. Max Stern
Photo MBAM / Jean-François Brière
© Estate of Kees Van Dongen / SODRAC[2008]

The retrospective will bring together some 200 works, including over a hundred paintings, as well as forty rare drawings, prints and other archival documents and photographs, and, for the first time, a dozen Fauvist ceramics. From turn-of-the-century anarchist to the “interwar painter of elegant neurosis,” it is the work of a moralist that will be shown here, an observer of society, from the bohemian world to the demimondaines of the cocktail era.

The exhibition Kees van Dongen will illustrate the influential role Van Dongen played in early twentieth-century art and his unique position as the only portraitist among the Fauves. The exhibition will re-establish the place of a forgotten Fauve in North America. His caustic, urban, scandalous art is very different from the landscape Fauvism that is generally associated with this movement. His dazzling, shameless works, which have been described as “riots of light, heat and colour,” attest to his distinctive style within modern art alongside his contemporaries Matisse and Picasso.

In the light of new research and previously little-known works, the artist’s career will be traced from his early days in Holland to his move to Paris and his participation in the famous Salon d’Automne of 1905, which established Fauvism as a new movement in modern art. Arresting paintings of nudes and flirtatious women that retain the sumptuous colours and rich impasto of his Fauvist works will be examined through the themes of exoticism, spectacle and Orientalism. The show will also include an impressive selection of large society portraits of the most celebrated personalities of the Roaring Twenties, which will illustrate his mature period. After Monaco and Montreal, the exhibition will travel to Barcelona’s Picasso Museum.

    Major Works

The Montreal presentation will present, for the first time in North America, the outstanding collection of works by Van Dongen recently acquired by the Nouveau Musée national de Monaco, including the magisterial Spotted Chimera (1895-1907) and the Tabarin Wrestlers (1907-1908 ), an astonishing canvas that has not been exhibited for over fifty years, and Tango of the Archangel (1922-1935). The Musée national d’art modern, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’art modern de la Ville de Paris have granted many outstanding loans for the exhibition, including the famous Tableau that created a scandal in 1913 and the Self-portrait as Neptune (1922). Many major loans have also been received from public and private collections in Europe and elsewhere, including a number of important works from the Nahmad family. The Montreal exhibition is also presenting works from American collections.

Kees Van Dongen


Kees Van Dongen [1877 – 1968]
The Spotted Chimera
1895 – 1907
Oil on cancas
201 x 293,3
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
© Estate of Kees Van Dongen / SODRAC[2008]


Kees Van Dongen [1877 – 1968]
The Wrestlers or Tabarin Wrestlers
1907 – 1908
Oil on canvas
105,5 x 164 cm
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
Photo Marcel Loli
© Estate of Kees Van Dongen / SODRAC[2008]


Kees Van Dongen [1877 – 1968]
Tango or Tango of the Archangel
1922 – 1935
Oil on canvas
196 x 197
Coll. Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
© Estate of Kees Van Dongen / SODRAC[2008]

    The Exhibition Themes

The themes of the exhibition will introduce visitors to Van Dongen’s rich and varied oeuvre as they follow his career from Rotterdam to Paris, where he was an active player in the avant-garde scene of the early twentieth century. From North to South, from Symbolism to Neo-impressionism (1885-1904) presents early works executed in Holland, which reflect Van Dongen’s inspiration, which ranged from Rembrandt to the Neo-Impressionists; Van Dongen Illustrator (1895-1904) reveals the key role his graphic work played in his art, which was defended by Van Dongen’s first, most influential supporter, art critic Félix Fénéon; Van Dongen Fauve (1904-1912) shows his style evolving under the influence of artists of the avant-garde like Matisse and Picasso, as well as how he became notorious after his participation in the Salon d’Automne in 1905, and his growing interest in portraiture, the worlds of the cabaret and the circus and his obsession with women; Exoticism and Orientalism (1910-1917) reveals how his trips to Spain, Morocco and Egypt inspired him to create new harmonies of colours and to explore a new purity of line; The Artist’s Studio: A Social Venue (1914-1930). During this period the now famous Van Dongen frequented Paris high society and painted a gallery of portraits that represent a chronicle of the Roaring Twenties; and Landscapes (the 1950s) the final section, presents works, as well as archival documents and photographs, that show the artist revisiting the themes and styles that characterized his early years.

    The Catalogue

More than just a catalogue, this richly illustrated book will be co-published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco and Hazan, Paris, in separate French and English editions. It includes many previously unpublished documents thanks to the co-operation of the artist’s family. The first major work published in English on Van Dongen, it includes essays by a team of internationally renowned experts, including, for the first time, American art historians.

© The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
© Estate of Kees Van Dongen / SODRAC[2008]


Disclaimer & Copyright

Stampfli & Turci Art Dealers – Espaces Arts & Objets


~ by Stampfli & Turci on January 9, 2009.

4 Responses to “Van Dongen exhibition at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts”

  1. […] Van Dongen exhibition at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts […]

  2. similar style as chagal

  3. L.S.,

    ‘Tango’ is my favourite painting. I would like to put a reproduction of it on my myspace page. Is that allowed?

    Thank you, kind regards,


    • We do not own the copyright. We received permission to publish the photograph only in connection with the exhibition. Therefore we can’t answer your question nor give you any kind of authorization.
      Best regards
      Stampfli & Turci

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