Dutch artists in Montmartre Paris
Last week we watched the exhibition “Dutch artists in Paris: 1789-1914” in the Petit Palais and this week we have a performance on one Dutch artist (and friends) in Montmartre: “Van Dongen and the Bateau Lavoir,” on the Musée de Montmartre.
When he moved permanently from Rotterdam to Paris in 1899, Van Dongen settled in Montmartre in the company of many other young artists of that time and he recorded anarchist visions, which he ………….
expressed through his illustrations for publications such as La Revue Blanche and L ‘Assiette au Beurre, some of which can be seen here.
The paintings from his early years in Paris change from beautiful, Utrillo-like streets of Montmartre (‘Maison à Montmartre’, 1904) to such places of entertainment as the ‘Absinthe Drinker’ (1902-03) influenced by Lautrec, in which a drunken lady, the most inelegant sitting on the street, as if she just fell on her buttocks, flirts with a deadly head in a top hat.
The subject of nightlife continued to fascinate Van Dongen during his long, successful career, but during this period he seemed more interested in his filthy side, portraying faceless people in streetwear or drinking drunk in bars.
In 1905, Van Dongen and his girlfriend, Augusta Preitinger, known as Guus, moved to the Bateau Lavoir, the famous studio building in those days inhabited by the young wolves of the art world, including Picasso, Modigliani, Juan Gris and Max Jacob.
Part of the show presents works performed in the company of another Dutch couple living in the Bateau Lavoir, Otto van Rees and Adya Dutilh, who were both artists. Van Dongen’s most striking painting of a stay in the country with them is “Lieussen” (1905), a luminous work that clearly shows the influence of his late compatriot Vincent Van Gogh, with his pointillist approach to the rural scene of two women, one dressed in red and the other in blue, binding sheaves of hay in a field under shining sunshine.
Among the more powerful works in the exhibition are “Le Carrousel” (Manège de Cochons) “(c.1955), which captures the whirlwind of the movement of a merry-go-round, a semi-nude portrait of Picasso’s beloved Fernande Olivier, made when she all lived in the Bateau Lavoir (according to Gertrude Stein this painting led to words between the two rival artists), the powerful “Portrait of an old clown” (c.1909-10), part of a series about the Cirque Medrano, and ” Portrait de Madame Marie-Thérèse Raulet “(c.1925-30), pictured at the top of the page, a beautiful image of a languid lady who technically does not belong in this exhibition because it was painted long after painting. Montmartre.
I have mixed feelings about Van Dongen – I am repelled by his portraits of women with cartoon-like big eyes (of which there is only one in this show, “Deux Yeux”, from 1911) – and find his multitude of styles confusing, but then there are the beautiful paintings mentioned above.
Although the selection of works in this show seems rather arbitrary (I suspect it is difficult for a small museum like this to get loans for the best works), there are plenty of beautiful paintings here for a special trip to the charming Musée de Montmartre to make it worthwhile.