.Bonnard - Part 1

Painting by Pierre Bonnard from 1940, "The Garden Stairs".
For a long time, it was not fashionable to like the ultra colorful works of Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947). At the age of 24, Bonnard said that he did not belong to any school and that his work was not part of the mainstream. It is true that he joined the Nabis ("prophets" in Hebrew) for a time, a movement that sought to recreate a form of sacred art with very colorful and almost abstract paintings. But it was to better isolate itself thereafter. Geographically first: Pierre Bonnard did most of his paintings in Normandy, then in Le Cannet, on the French Riviera, far from the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Artistically, then: he missed the great revolutions of his time, cubism, surrealism... provoking the disdain of some contemporaries, such as Picasso who had particularly harsh words against Bonnard's "sentimentality".
I understood very late what my grandfather said when he considered Bonnard as the absolute master of the 20th century.

In November 1889, Pierre Bonnard was sworn in as a lawyer. What a journey! Matisse was a notary's clerk.

Here he is with his beloved dachshund. He had several of them: Ubu, Black, Poussette and Dingo, they can be found in many of his paintings.
Bonnard is the first artist who believed in my grandfather, Aimé Maeght.
Aimé Maeght said, "Without Bonnard, I might have continued like the other dealers. Bonnard arrived at the moment in my life when I wanted to make that great leap into modern art and it was he, first of all through his painting and through the many thoughts and discussions we had together, who made me understand what modern art could be." Aware that he was rubbing shoulders with an exceptional man, my grandfather filmed him in his daily life, thus making the only films in the world of this genius of art history.

" La toilette ", circa 1908

Bonnard chose a sophisticated composition to portray Marthe, his partner and exclusive model, shown here both from behind and from the front thanks to the reflection of the mirror. The importance of the decoration as well as the presence of truncated or deformed elements, such as the pedestal table on which a jug is placed, push the composition towards a decorative abstraction characteristic of this period of Bonnard's creation. Reworked by the artist between 1914 and 1921, the painting is part of a period of doubt and questioning, after the Cubist wave, Bonnard resumed the basics of painting.
Bonnard could not help but retouch his works, walking around with a box of colors in his pocket, including in museums. Bonnardiser or bonnarder have entered the common language meaning to retouch a work of art that one has created, even without the knowledge of its new owners.

Pierre Bonnard, "Intérieur aux fleurs", 1919.

"La Partie de croquet", 1892.
In Bonnard's work, what is marvelous and what confuses our gaze is that there is no hierarchy in the elements of the composition, our gaze goes back and forth from one to the other, the subject becomes accessory, the purpose is the composition. Find the balance of values. This painting is a masterpiece of the Nabis period of Bonnard who does not hesitate to include "decorative" motifs in his compositions, ignoring a representation of reality. Here the clothes become a pretext for the inclusion of checks and checkerboards.
The Nabis group - nabi means prophet in Hebrew - includes Paul Sérusier (1864-1927), Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Henri-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936), Paul-Elie Ranson (1861-1909), Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940), Félix Vallotton (1865-1925), Mogens Ballin (1872-1914)...

The sun of the French Riviera by Pierre Bonnard to light the week, " Fenêtre ouverte ", 1921. Dazzling!
What a fantastic composition with this black blind that responds to the little cat and the verticals... Everything seems to be an assembly of geometric shapes that create a perfect balance. The arrangement of the elements that frame the window opening direct the eye to this voluptuous tree.

"Femme avec chien", 1891.

In 1890, Pierre Bonnard shared a studio with Vuillard and Marice Denis. It was then that he began to make color lithographs. The following year, 1891, he met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and presented his first exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants and in the first exhibitions of the Nabis. He exhibited with the Nabis until their dissolution in 1900.
Other works soon published.