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Pierre Bonnard

Artist (France)
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About

Pierre Bonnard (3 October 1867 — 23 January 1947) was a French painter and printmaker, as well as a founding member of the Post-Impressionist group of avant-garde painters Les Nabis. Bonnard preferred to work from memory, using drawings as a reference, and his paintings are often characterised by a dreamlike quality. The intimate domestic scenes, for which he is perhaps best known, often include his wife Marthe de Meligny.

Bonnard has been described as "the most thoroughly idiosyncratic of all the great twentieth- century painters", and the unusual vantage points of his compositions rely less on traditional modes of pictorial structure than voluptuous colour, poetic allusions and visual wit. Identified as a late practitioner of Impressionism in the early 20th century, Bonnard has since been recognised for his unique use of colour and his complex imagery. "It’s not just the colours that radiate in a Bonnard", writes Roberta Smith, "there’s also the heat of mixed emotions, rubbed into smoothness, shrouded in chromatic veils and intensified by unexpected spatial conundrums and by elusive, uneasy figures."

In 1891, he met Toulouse-Lautrec and began showing his work at the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. In the same year Bonnard also began an association with La Revue Blanche, for which he and Édouard Vuillard designed frontispieces. His first show was at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1896. His earlier work such as “Woman in Checkered Dress (1890)” shows the influence of Japanese prints.

In his 20s Bonnard was a part of Les Nabis, a group of young artists committed to creating work of symbolic and spiritual nature. Other Nabis include Vuillard and Maurice Denis. In addition to his paintings, he also became known for his posters and book illustrations, as well as for his prints and theater set designs. He left Paris in 1910 for the south of France.

Bonnard was described, by his own friend and historians, as a man of "quiet temperament" and one who was unobtrusively independent. His life was relatively free from "the tensions and reversals of untoward circumstance". It has been suggested that: "Like Daumier, whose life knew little serenity, Bonnard produced a work during his sixty years' activity that follows an even line of development."