RKD podcast: Kees van Dongen

 RKD podcast: Kees van Dongen

Episode 6 in the podcast series made by the RKD in collaboration with Caspar Stalenhoef is dedicated to the painter Kees van Dongen. The artist is the subject of an exhibition that recently opened at the Singer Museum in Laren, which was organised by Anita Hopmans, senior curator at the RKD. In the podcast, available (in Dutch) on Spotify and Apple Podcasts among other podcast apps, she talks about Van Dongen’s breakthrough in Paris just after 1900.

Audio URL


Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) was among the vanguard of Dutch artists who went to Paris around 1900. There he found himself at the centre of the avant-garde and artistic innovation, and he transformed himself into a painter. From the podcast we learn about Kees van Dongen’s progress, the artists and critics with whom he mingled, and that stylistic changes in his work often coincided with the move to a new studio. The result was an impressive and varied body of work.

Graphic work

It is less well known that Kees van Dongen did not start out as a painter. He went to Paris in order to draw, taking with him nothing more than a pen and sketchbook. During her research Anita Hopmans discovered many unknown drawings from the early phase of his work. Some were in public collections including the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and others with descendants of Van Dongen in Monaco. He chose to work on paper in order to expand the reach of his work: publication of drawings and prints in illustrated journals meant that his work could be seen by a much larger group of people. Nonetheless he felt stimulated by the rise of the avant-garde in Paris and decided to become a painter.

1. Kees van Dongen, Espagnole, 1910, whereabouts unknown 
2. Kees van Dongen, Peasant women biding sheaves, 1905, private collection


In the course of her research on Kees van Dongen Anita Hopmans tracked down and catalogued numerous drawings and paintings. In addition she has succeeded in bringing a group of these to Holland for the substantial exhibition in Singer Laren, which continues until 7 May 2023. More information about the exhibition is also provided by the Gooise Museumschatten podcast (Museum Treasures in het Gooi), in which Caspar Stalenhoef talks to Anita Hopmans and the Singer’s director, Jan Rudolph de Lorm.