Approx. 220 images
Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia
Presenting an overall view of Pierre Bonnard’s career, Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia explores an oeuvre of controlled lyricism and delineates a role that rightfully belongs to the artist—that of one of the foremost masters of modernism.
Born in 1867, the son of a high-ranking bureaucrat in the French War Ministry, Bonnard abandoned a law career to follow his calling as a painter. In 1887 he enrolled in classes at the Académie Julian, Paris, where he joined a group of young painters known as the Nabis (after the Hebrew word meaning “prophet”). They were interested in subjects from everyday life, and their canvases were marked by vibrant patterns and colors. By the early years of the twentieth century, the Nabis had disbanded, and for the remainder of his career, Bonnard would resist affiliation with any particular school. Instead, he alternated between the themes and techniques of the Impressionists and the abstract visual modes of modernism.
Bonnard worked in many genres and techniques—painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, even sculpture. From the domestic and urban scenes of his early Nabi period to his grand paintings balancing the immediacy of Impressionism with the permanence of decorative painting, Bonnard’s art is grounded in a modernity that was transformed by his knowledge of works from other cultures, including Japanese woodblock prints and Mediterranean mosaics.
Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia accompanies the first monographic exhibition devoted to the artist to be shown in San Francisco and the first major international presentation of his work to be mounted on the West Coast in more than fifty years. Organized by the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, with the Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the exhibition and publication offer a representative look of Bonnard’s oeuvre.