Pierre Bonnard at Tate Modern: first major show of the French Post-Impressionist in the UK for 20 years shows a home full of colour and light

At this dreary time of yr, the sunny scene of having fun with a meal by a window open to a backyard or a view of the ocean can be heaven, and French painter Pierre Bonnard evidently thought the identical.

Right this moment, practically 100 of his works go on present at Tate Modern, the primary main present of the nice colourist’s work within the UK for 20 years.

What a blinding revelation, what colors, what intense exploration of day by day life.

From a red-and-white chequered tablecloth strewn with fruit, bread, wine and all of the paraphernalia of homely consuming — carafes, glass tumblers, porcelain plates, bone-handled knives, silver spoons, espresso pots, cups and pie plates — to a glittering glass fruit desk centrepiece, it’s all right here, so scrumptious that you just wish to pluck a stewed fig or glistening grape.

Bonnard painted this beautiful thought repeatedly. That eating desk earlier than a door bringing within the deep scents and colors of the backyard by no means adjustments a lot, but is at all times totally different — whether or not the fabric is white, product of many flicks of colored paint or red-and-white woven squares.

In his collection of tub work, the fats, curved enamel tub with gleaming, thick rim stays the identical, however the carpets, wallpaper, tiles, garments dumped on a chair, shift and alter.

Some work seize your coronary heart with on the spot recognition. In Espresso, 1915, take a look at the naughty dachshund, paws on the desk, and somebody handing a small liqueur glass because the espresso is completed.

A large tortoise seems to wander on the garden past. In The Chequered Tablecloth, 1916, a battered silver spoon gleams, and that uneven slab of white Normandy butter calls out, to not point out a white juicy halved pear.


The Chequered Tablecloth, 1916 (The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, New York. Partial and Promised Present of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1998)

In his 1913 Eating Room within the Nation, scorching colors intensify the cool white tablecloth in opposition to searing warmth outdoors. Wicker baskets implement the thought of casual indoor picnics.

In The Desk, 1925, the fabric is loaded with treats, particularly a wavy-edged fruit tart on a stand. There’s a basket for bread — simply the heel in a serviette; one other for damsons, one more for peaches. A girl polishes off a bowl of one thing scrumptious, whereas the opposite diner has gone.

In a very inviting variant, Open French Window, Vernon, 1921, an informal woven-reed procuring basket strung crookedly on the door knob begs us to go to the market.

Bonnard was comfortably introduced up within the Paris suburbs, his father a high-ranking civil servant. Educated as a barrister, he painted as an alternative, and made cash. In 1893, he met Marthe de Méligny.

Residing first in Paris, married in 1925, they had been collectively 50 years till she died in 1942. She is the lady within the tub. Bonnard had a number of affairs with fashions, however Marthe dominates the work.

In 1909, he visited the south of France and located the colors, the ocean and the mirrored mild magical. He purchased a home close to Cannes, Le Bosquet, in 1926. He owned one other in Normandy inside visiting distance of his buddy Monet, at Giverny.

In later works, Bonnard virtually by no means used black paint, although he drew with it. This leads to a vibrantly colored floor the place the whole lot has equal significance, even shadows.

It’s very clear in The Window, 1925, the place a window closed with a basic espagnolette lock seems to be out to serried pink rooftops. He labored in his studio from reminiscence, by no means the precise factor, and it’s this vivid recollection that makes his footage really feel so actual.

The timing of Tate Fashionable’s present is good, as Bonnard (1867-1947), who painted for 60 years, had the creative misfortune to straddle a century.

His younger 1890s works had been applauded, however these later works from about 1912, primarily interiors, had been in contrast with these of Picasso and Braque, and he was thought-about unambitious, or previous hat.

This present proves that he was forward, not behind. And that Pierre Bonnard by no means wished to be Picasso or Braque — simply the nice artist he at all times was.

The CC Land Exhibition — Pierre Bonnard: The Color of Reminiscence — opens at Tate Modern in the present day and runs till Might 6.

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