Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia

By Guy Cogeval, Isabelle Cahn, Paul-Henri Bourrelier, Phillipe Comar, Chantal Duverget, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Gloria Groom, et al.

Pierre Bonnard Cover White Box

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.


Guy Cogeval is President of the Musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris.

Isabelle Cahn is Chief Curator of Paintings at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Paul-Henri Bourrelier is Ingénier general of the French National Corps of Mining Engineers.

Phillipe Comar is an artist, writer, and Professor of Morphology at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris.

Chantal Duverget is an art historian.

Marina Ferretti Bocquillon is Director for Exhibitions and Research at the Musée des impressionnismes, Giverny, France.

Gloria Groom is Chair of European Painting and Sculpture, David and Mary Winton Green Curator, at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Margrit Hahnloser-Ingold is an art historian.

Albert Kostenevich is Senior Curator of Modern European Painting at The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.

Felix Krämer is Head of Modern Art at the Städel Museum, Frankfurt.

Magali Lesauvage is a journalist and art critic.

María López-Fernández is Chief Curator at the Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid.

Ursula Perucchi-Petri is an art historian and former Vice Director at the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Eliza Rathbone is Chief Curator Emerita at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.

Véronique Serrano is Chief Curator and Director at the Musée Bonnard, Le Cannet, France.

Antoine Terrasse is an art historian.

Nicholas Watkins is Emeritus Reader, Department of History of Art and Film at the University of Leicester, England.

Nicholas-Henri Zmelty is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History at the Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France.

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