Pierre Bonnard’s Sumptuous Late Interiors At The MET

30Jan09

 

Pierre Bonnard's "The French Window (Morning at Le Cannet)," 1932

Pierre Bonnard's "The French Window (Morning at Le Cannet)," 1932

By Emily Waldorf

I first fell in love with Pierre Bonnard’s paintings when I was an art history student living in Paris, wandering around the Musee d’Orsay.  Bonnard’s simple yet elegant paintings transport the viewer into his color saturated world, incorporating everyday objects into a blend of interiors and still lifes that almost sing.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art is showing a Bonnard retrospective of his late work, produced between 1923-46, when he narrowed his subject down to his immediate surroundings with stunning results.  The exhibition includes approximately 80 paintings, drawings, and watercolors highlighting a style that was born with Eduard Vuillard and the Nabis and perfected in later life.  

Pierre Bonnard's "Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)," 1930-31

Pierre Bonnard's "Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)," 1930-31

Art critic Roberta Smith approved of the exhibition, writing in her New York Times article, “Bonnard Late in Life, Searching for the Life:”
“It contains a slew of wonderful paintings that reveal the artist meditating on the nature of time, perception, memory and the ways and means of painting, while reviewing the glories of early modernism and tying up some of its loose ends…in his best works, seeing and feeling merged in forms that glowed from within; decorative and subjective became one. It’s not just the colors that radiate in a Bonnard, 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.”

Pierre Bonnard's "Table In Front of The Window," 1934-35

Pierre Bonnard's "Table In Front of The Window," 1934-35

Though Bonnard’s late work doesn’t tackle complex social ills, it is simply beautiful and technically flawless in the best French tradition, providing a necessary form of escapism in today’s uneasy world.  “Pierre Bonnard:  The Late Interiors” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through April 19, 2009 in the Robert Lehman Wing.

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5 Responses to “Pierre Bonnard’s Sumptuous Late Interiors At The MET”

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