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Exhibition Review – Pierre Bonnard : Colour of Memory at Tate Modern from 23rd January to 6th May 2019

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tate Modern presents the UK’s first major Pierre Bonnard exhibition in 20 years, the exhibition entitled  Pierre Bonnard : Colour of Memory explores the work of French painter and how he developed his own unique style. The exhibition brings together around 100 of his greatest works from museums and private collections around the world.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition spans four decades from the emergence of Bonnard’s unique style in 1912 to his death in 1947 and  shows how the artist constructed his paintings to express moments of particular significance.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition begins with Young Women in the Garden which illustrates how Bonnard would take an initial image but would continuously work on the canvas for months or years to get to a stage where the artist is satisfied. This particular painting was started in 1921-3 but was not finished till 1945-6. Not all his paintings took so long to complete but Bonnard liked to explore the idea of time and memories.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Bonnard lived with his partner Marthe de Meligny for 30 years before they got married in 1925, Man and Woman 1900 seems to celebrate their unconventional lifestyle and many of the artist’s early paintings featured Marthe in domestic scenes or vibrant landscapes  like Dining Room in the Country 1913, The Lane at Vernonnet 1912-14 and Coffee 1915.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Marthe was often the model for a series of nude studies especially that often involved water like Nude in the Bath 1936, and Nude crouching in tub 1918.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Bonnard bought his first car in 1911 and travelled extensively all over France, on these trips he developed his work on landscapes. His landscapes like Summer 1917 were generally more concerned with colour than just representation. Bonnard often visited Monet at Giverny and was inspired by the large water-lily canvases.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

After the First World War, the death of his mother led Bonnard to work on a series of domestic scenes often centred around meals, The Bowl of Milk 1919 illustrates how Bonnard was using different perspectives to record domestic scenes.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

His house in Vernonnet in Normandy was a constant inspiration where he could explore the relationship between man-made and natural environments. These studies led a more abstract approach with The Violet Fence 1922 and Studio with Mimosa 1939-46 .

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition concludes with a group of works created towards the end of Bonnard’s life, while spending the Second World War in Le Cannet in the South of France.  The war led the artist to look back on a lifetime of memories and create works that showed the beauty of the world and not the horror and  devastation.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating exhibition offers the opportunity to study the works of Pierre Bonnard, although often overshadowed by other French painters of the period, Bonnard deserves to be recognised for this own unique style. Bonnard’s use of intense colours and modern compositions inspired many later artists to experiment with capturing fleeting moments, memories and emotions on canvas. In a period in which the world was tearing itself apart, Bonnard concentrated on the small pleasures of everyday life that enabled himself and other people to survive the severe political and social turmoil. 

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

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Pierre Bonnard : Colour of Memory at Tate Modern – 23rd January to 6th May 2019

In January 2019, Tate Modern will stage the UK’s first major Pierre Bonnard exhibition in 20 years, showing the work of this innovative and much-loved French painter in a new light. The exhibition will bring together around 100 of his greatest works from museums and private collections around the world. It will reveal how Bonnard’s intense colours and modern compositions transformed painting in the first half of the 20th century, and will celebrate his unparalleled ability to capture fleeting moments, memories and emotions on canvas.

Spanning four decades from the emergence of Bonnard’s unique style in 1912 to his death in 1947, Tate Modern’s exhibition will show how the artist constructed his vibrant landscapes and intimate domestic scenes from memory. At once sensuous and melancholy, these paintings express moments lost in time – the view from a window, a stolen look at a lover, or an empty room at the end of a meal. These motifs can be seen in breakthrough works like Dining Room in the Country 1913 (Minneapolis Institute of Art) in which he brought interior and exterior spaces together to create a vibrant atmosphere, while the bright colours of works like The Lane at Vernonnet 1912-14 (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh) exemplify how his palette could still evoke the poignancy of a moment gone forever.

The exhibition will emphasise Bonnard as a 20th century artist who – like his friend and contemporary Henri Matisse – had a profound impact on modern painting and would become an influential figure for later artists like Mark Rothko and Patrick Heron. Bonnard will be repositioned as a man who engaged with the world around him, revealing overlooked areas of his activities – from his frequent travels around France and his practice of working on different subjects side by side, to his response to the crises of both the First and Second World War. Alert to his surroundings, he developed unconventional compositions in his paintings of everyday life: his landscapes collapsed into layers of dense foliage, such as Summer 1917 (Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence) and street scenes, as in Piazza del Popolo, Rome 1922 (private collection), were simplified into friezes. Perhaps most famously, his interior scenes like Coffee 1915 (Tate) and Nude in an interior c.1935 (National Gallery of Art, Washington) caught domestic life at uncanny moments and reframed them from snatched points of view.

Bonnard’s process of reimagining through memory also allowed his paintings to become more abstract. This is already evident in the bands of contrasting colour in works like The Violet Fence 1922 (Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh) but reaches a high-point in the vivid Studio with Mimosa 1939-46 (Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou, Paris). The exhibition will conclude with a group of works created towards the end of Bonnard’s life, while spending the Second World War in Le Cannet living with scarce resources and the anxiety of invasion. These panoramic views and vibrant garden scenes show the artist looking back on a lifetime of memories and working on the brink of abstraction.

For more information and tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here