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KEES VAN DONGEN

Painter

© Gilbert Hamel collection
© Gilbert Hamel - City of Deauville

The "king" of the boards

In the summer of 1913, Van Dongen and his family spent their first summer in Deauville. During the Roaring Twenties, Van Dongen adopted Deauville. We meet him at the races, at the beach and at the Bar du Soleil. His long silhouette, his white beard and his pipe make him quickly recognizable among the celebrities who make the image and the animation of Deauville.

Born in Holland, Kees Van Dongen, settled permanently in Paris in 1900. In 1905, a friend of Derain and Vlaminck, he shared the adventure of the Fauves painters. He moved to Montmartre at the Bateau-Lavoir and joined the band at Picasso alongside Salmon, Apollinaire, Dorgelès and Mac Orlan. His portraits made him famous and triggered numerous commissions. It is precisely a commission for a portrait, by a shipowner from Le Havre, who attracted the famous painter of the Roaring Twenties, to the Normandy coast, around 1910.
Van Dongen took advantage of these first stays in Deauville to design in 1920 with the designer Paul Poiret, a book soberly entitled Deauville. Paul Poiret writes the texts, while Van Dongen illustrates with a set of watercolors representing the casino, La Potinière, the races, the beach and its elegant people. A first series of his watercolors is in Paris in November 1920. Deauville, a book much sought after today by bibliophiles, will appear in 1931, enriched with a second series of watercolors produced in 1929. In March 1921, Van Dongen once again testified to his gaze on Deauville by exhibiting at the Galerie Bernheim- Young, twenty four paintings. After the war, in 1947, he found Deauville where he again became the King of Boards. We find it, regularly photographed in magazines for the general public. In 1955, he produced a poster for Le gala blanc then a tourist poster to promote Deauville. At the beginning of the 60s, over the age of 80, Van Dongen returned each summer to Deauville taking board at the Hôtel Normandy, where his name appeared on the registers until 1963.

Van Dongen is the slow nonchalant with sparkling eyes. If I baptized him I would call him "Zigomar" or "Glouglou" ...
Jacques Henri Lartigue, newspaper, February 1923

In Havre, a shipowner of Dutch origin wanted me to paint his portrait. I went to his house, I painted his portrait and then I went for a walk on the coast, which was very pretty, in Honfleur, in Trouville. Deauville suited me like a glove. I met my customers there and it looked like Holland. Because of the light.
Van Dongen.
Interview with Henri Perruchot, The Literary, Artistic and Scientific News, August 7, 1958

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