Cornelis Johannes (Kees) Maks was born in Amsterdam on August 22, 1876 and was a Dutch painter and one and only pupil of George Hendrik Breitner. You can see this in the bold and robust design of his paintings. He is considered one of the most important modern figurative artists of the early 20th century. While avant-garde painting predominated in Europe in the first quarter of the 20th century, many artists in the interwar period returned to a more neo-classical figurative art.He is related to the Bergen School through the visible reality in his oeuvre and the Hague School.
Kees Maks made paintings and watercolors of the fashionable nightlife, often painted in large format in large areas of color. He is known for frivolous, atypical circus performances, dance couples, strolling companies, variety shows and garden parties. He painted lively and expressively with strong contrasts, bright bright colors and fine areas of color. He described himself in a book: 'Always seeking light, color and especially movement, he occupies a special place in the painting world.'
He was taught by Breitner and attended the Academy where, after a conflict with Nicolaas van der Waay, he was only allowed to attend the evening classes. During and immediately after his studies he went to Paris, especially for Manet, and later to Spain to study Velasquez and to be influenced by the southern light. He then spent a while in Rome where he discovered and applied the technique of painting with a grid of the artist friend Mancini.
He signed his work as C.J. Maks. He alternated his residence in Amsterdam, where he was a member of St. Lucas until 1912, with longer stays in Paris, where he participated annually in the Salons between 1910 and 1945 and declared his popularity in France. In 1910 he founded the art circle with Toorop, Mondriaan and Kickert, among others. Together with other members such as Kees van Dongen and Jan Sluijters, Maks caused a stir with his works because of their modern character and sometimes offensive subjects. The Hollandse Kunstkring also regularly exhibited in the Stedelijk. In 1929 he had his second solo performance in the Stedelijk Museum. He also had regular exhibitions at Buffa.
After the war he remained faithful to his way of painting, which meant that he did not receive the attention that he did at the beginning of his career, as was the case with Piet Mondriaan, for example. Kees was a bit of a loner and studies show that he was a stiff man. Friends included collector Osterholt, painter Otto B. de Kat and sculptor Han Wenzelaar who either visited the studio of 'Keesbaas' and Breitner on Prinseneiland or later at his house on the Willem Sparkweg. Both were filled with his works and a few by Breitner. He married Sara Boas where Simon Maris was a witness.
To read more, buy this book from BOL, among others, which was published for an exhibition in the Kunsthal: