In Focus

Pierre Bonnard's Joyous Exploration of Color

A 1984 article by Steven A. Nash, the Dallas Museum of Art's Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the time, discusses the ways Pierre Bonnard combined diverse visual sources in the development of his mature style. This passage points out some of the underlying contrasts present in his late works.

In the interior or porch scenes, for example, the luxuriant freedom of nature glimpsed out a window or door is consistently contrasted with the enclosed, man-made world of domesticity, setting up a play of near and far, of possession and freedom with strongly personal implications. In canvas after canvas, Bonnard's wife Marthe is shown in the privacy of her bath, in what amounts to a perpetual and tender homage to her beauty and their mutual love. Still life paintings, so bright and beautiful on the one hand, also stress the frailty of flowers and life in general, much as Dutch still lifes had done three centuries earlier. Some crowd scenes have a congested massing of figures that recalls the disturbing tension of German Expressionism.

Excerpt from

Steven A. Nash, "Bonnard's Joyous Exploration of Color," in Dallas Museum of Art Bulletin (Fall 1984), 9.

Web Resources

Pierre Bonnard: The Graphic Art_
_Read page 158 of this catalogue for more information on Bonnard's wife and primary model. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989)