Carel Willink


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Dutch painter, born in Amsterdam, associated with Magic Realism. He initially studied medicine, then architecture, but, after deciding that he wanted to be a painter, moved to Berlin to study painting. He exhibited with the Novembergruppe, before returning to Amsterdam in 1924. He passed through Expressionist and Futurist phases, but by the mid-1920s was painting in a sharp-focus style influenced by German Neue Sachlichkeit, initially applying it to portraiture with a certain fantastic edge. His best-known work dates from the 1930s: moodily atmospheric paintings like The Last Visitors to Pompeii (1931, Boymans–van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam) reflect a pessimistic outlook on the future of Western civilization. In other paintings, such as The Preacher (1937, Centraal Museum, Utrecht) he seems to suggest austerity as an antidote to the woes of society. In the 1970s he acquired considerable notoriety for extra-artistic reasons. His wife, Mathilde, nearly forty years his junior, was a well-known society figure, noted for her extravagant dress sense. After Carel had affairs with a model and the sculptor Sylvia Quiël, they divorced and Mathilde threatened suicide in a television interview, if the settlement was insufficient. She was found dead a few months later, shot with the gun in her hand. A documentary on her life, Mathilde Willink Superpoes, was released in 2002.

Subjects: Art.

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