The color of memory

In his paintings, the French artist Pierre Bonnard made the play of colors the pillar of his creative process. Among his artistic idols was Paul Gauguin, whose use of strong colors he emulated. The Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien is showing a comprehensive retrospective.

The French Post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard put color at the forefront of his oeuvre as the central means of expression and creation. Not only moods, but also spaces and entire compositions. The painter developed models about the contrast and harmony of warmer and colder hues. Kunstforum is showing the first comprehensive retrospective about the oeuvre of Pierre Bonnard in Austria.

The exhibition focuses on Bonnard’s works that were created after his first visit to the Côte d’Azur in 1909 as a result of his deeply felt experience of the Mediterranean light. This changed Bonnard’s color palette, who up to that point had largely lived in Paris and central France. The glowing colors define his paintings until his late period.

When it came to colors, the artist was a true perfectionist. As his gallerist, Jean Dauberville, told in an interview, “Bonnard was never happy with the outcome. One day he visited an exhibition of his paintings at the Musée de Luxembourg and had his mind set on touching up one of the works. To this end, he had poured paint into a small Mediterranean scallop. Shortly before closing time, when the guard was not looking, he dabbed some paint on one of his paintings with his finger. Suddenly the guard turned around and caught him in the act. Of course, nobody would believe him that he was really Pierre Bonnard himself. So, they locked him into the office of the conservator’s office until somebody came and let him out.”

Pierre Bonnard – the color of memory, October 10, 2019 – January 12, 2020


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