Marthe Donas, a name that I’ve never heard before going to this exhibition. A Belgian artist who lived during the first world war. An artist whose work knows a lot of different shapes and influences, but still maintained her own style.
On Tuesday the 22nd of March 2015, I, not knowing about what was going on in the city that I live in, hopped on a train to Gent. In the Museum of Fine Arts there’s currently an exhibition about Marthe Donas. When I stepped on the train I got flooded with messages and information about the tragic and cowardly events that had happened that same morning, terrorists decided to hurt a lot of people in the airport of Brussels and the metro station in Maalbeek.
I am glad art exists. It was a strange and sad day, but I was able to clear my thoughts for a while by looking at art for a few hours. It still felt a bit weird, walking around in a grand museum with almost no visitors. The public transport was down, I had to wait until the late afternoon to get back to the city that I love living in, Brussels. The city that’s got such a good vibe, so much culture, so many museums, …
I absolutely adore the different shapes that she used as canvas.
Art can serve the public interest in so many way. Art is essential. There’s so much to say about this topic and there’s even so much to say about the tragic events that have happened. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about in this blogpost. This post revolves around the work of Marthe Donas.
So the story continues. Marthe Donas is born on the 26th of October 1885, in Antwerp. Few women know succes with their art during their life. Marthe is an exception. She goes by the name of Tour Donas. During this time women were not fully appreciated in the art world.
The exhibition starts at the beginning. Marthe Donas as a young, academic woman. She has set foot on Irish ground, on English and finally she ends up in Paris. The early years of the Parisian twentieth century are noticable by the art movement cubism. This movement had a big influence on Donas her work. She brings a somewhat sculptural touch to her paintings. Some years later, when she comes in contact with Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondriaan, her work starts to become more flat and abstract. The thing that appeals to me the most about her work is her use of colours and shapes and how everything is in balance.
The two drawings on top are made in 1915 – 1917, the other two in 1920.
She met Alexander Archipenko after her visit to Paris. He was her loved one for a while. He inspired her and brought her in contact with new influences. Because of him she had the opportunity to show her work in multiple exhibitions. After their breakup it became more difficult to show her work to the outside world. After their relationship ended Marthe went back to Belgium. This is where she finds new love in the arms of Harry Franke, a philosopher.
In the 1920s she gets discourages and she puts her paint brush down for over twenty years. Finally she picks it back up and she’s spends the last twenty years of her life painting her last pieces.
Website of the Museum of Fine Arts, Gent
This was originally published on Our Pursuit of Art.