Le doigt sur la joue
From 1906, Kees van Dongen mainly painted portraits of women, in which he preferably portrayed his models sensually, in daring and bright colours. The painting is one of the highlights of Van Dongen's fauvism period. The work was first exhibited in 1911 in the Paris Bernheim-Jeune gallery and was probably made shortly before that.
This painting of a Spanish woman with a shawl and a fan hangs in room XLI at the famous Salon des Indépendants of 1911 alongside Cubist paintings by Gleizes, Delaunay and Léger. The Cubists want to emphasize the contrast between this ‘old’ Fauvist work and their innovative Cubism. Their ruse backfires, however, and Van Dongen’s work is extremely well received. It is praised as a worthy alternative to the tonal palette of theoretical Cubism.
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