Pierre Bonnard: Painter of the Fluid Memory

Artistic Lines
from Joan Justis
May 2016

Painting of a desk top in front of a window

The Window 1925

The effervescent paintings of Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) were not painted to show true form but to allow him to present his subjective and sensitive vision for the whole image in his mind. I especially enjoy his beautiful, evocative interiors. I thought you might too.
Nabis (derived from the Hebrew word meaning ‘prophets’). He finished his obligation as aWhile studying to become a lawyer, he enrolled in the art Academie Julian. A fellow student Paul Serusier (1864-1927) painted a small panel under the direction of Paul Gauguin. Members of the class were so taken with the style of this master that the panel took on great significance and they organized the law student, but he preferred “the artistic life”.
Yellow poster of woman serving wine

France-Champagne Poster 1891

 He won his father’s support with the prize of 100 francs for winning an advertising contest with a poster. Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was attracted to Bonnard’s use of the loose Gauguin style and sought out Bonnard, who introduced him to the printer. Toulouse-Lautrec became famous for his poster style work in France.
 The Nabis emulated the Japanese printmakers. They flattened the shapes, cropped the figures making them a secondary part of the image, and used non-traditional perspectives. Bonnard combined these methods with his fascination for color and his life experience with the impressionists. His work seems to be based on memories of a feeling, of a “seeing”. Many of his paintings include Marthe de Meligny whom he met in 1893 and married thirty-two years later. She became mentally ill and he cared for her until she died in 1942.
Woman looking in the window to a dining room
Dining Room in the Country 1913
He continued to experiment and redevelop his methods. He turned to printmaking or lithographs, furniture design, puppet making and stage sets. He said he wanted to “make connections between art and life”. He illustrated two books for children. He showed regularly paintings of landscapes, portraits, nudes, still-life and interiors. He even had a friend distract a museum guard while he applied a more desirable color to one of his older paintings being exhibited. Always wanting to learn and to be able to express what he experienced, he wrote just before he died, ”I am only beginning to understand. I should start all over again…”

Portrait photo of Pierre Bonnard

 His work continues as evidence of his accomplishment. According to artworks.com, Sotheby’s auctioned in 2003 a Bonnard painting entitled “Interieur 1913” with a USD value of $1,000,000.
Thank you wiki.art for these images.
Final quote found in Phaidon’s Colour Library, Bonnard by Julian Bell. Page 24.
You may also enjoy http://theartstory.org/artist-bonnard-pierre.htm

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