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Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)

Odalisque couche

Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Odalisque couche
signed 'van Dongen' (lower left); signed again and inscribed 'Kees van Dongen' (on the reverse)
oil on board
21 x 27 in. (53.3 x 70.5 cm.)
Painted in 1909
Galerie Charpentier, Paris.
Galerie Ptrids, Paris.
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 30 November 1987, no. 56.
J.M. Kyriazi, Van Dongen et le Fauvisme, Lausanne, 1971, p. 147, no. 47 (illustrated in color, p. 111).
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Van Dongen, Cinquante ans de peinture, 1942, no. 26.
Lausanne, Galerie Paul Vallotton, Hommage Van Dongen, September 1971, no. 13.
Paris, Grand Palais, Salon d'Automne, October-November 1972, p. 31, no. 18.
Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, and Kanazawa, Departmental Museum of Ishikawa, Exposition Les Fauves, August-October 1974, no. 61.
Geneva, Muse de l'Athene, Van Dongen, July-October 1976, no. 13 (illustrated).
Sale Room Notice
A photo-certificate from the Wildenstein Institute dated Paris, 6 November 1998 accompanies this painting.

Lot Essay

The opulent colors, oriental decor and rich costumes in Odalisque couche illustrate Van Dongen's interest in Northern Africa. Van Dongen's taste for exotic subject-matter is further evidenced by a series of paintings of dancers that he created during this period, including Anita en alme, 1908 (Private Collection) and La femme aux colonnes, 1910 (Christie's New York, May 12, 1998, lot 34). The boldness of color and broad, violent brushstrokes employed in Odalisque couche reflect Van Dongen's relationship with the Fauves and anticipates the portraits from the artist's trip to Egypt in 1913.

As Donald Kuspit has explained:
Fauvism everywhere aims at the fusion of opposites, breaking the barrier between them, dissolving them... the Fauvist fascination with the female body... indicated by the attempt to reduce the female body to a crude mass of color, implies a special kind of desire... It is an identification which confirms the artist's power -- which appropriates female power for his art. She is reduced to its raw materials... his most important pictures are those of women, more or less nude, painted between ca. 1905-10. The female theme continues throughout his life, but it is never again as intense and fraught with psychodynamic complexity as in the works of those years. (D. Kuspit, "Kees van Dongen: Unequivocal Colour and Equivocal Sexuality," in exh. cat., Kees van Dongen, Museum Boymans-van-Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1990, pp. 37 and 39)

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