Pierre Bonnard – the painter of intimacy

Some artists live and work long, but remain outside the noise and excitement surrounding the art. They succeed (somehow) to move away from the unproductive, the ephemeral, and to sink into a world of reflections, feelings and emotions from which they build a new artistic world. A world in which we seek and discover ourselves.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) lived almost 80 years and died months before his jubilee exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of New Your City. Instead, the museum organized posthumous retrospective of Bonnard’s work in 1948.

Raised in the home of a French minister, he has lived a happy and cloudless childhood that can be felt in all his works. He remained in his entire life a calm big child, watching with widely open and trusting eyes the world and as if not feeling any stress and tension.

Pierre performed his father’s will to become a lawyer and graduated law in Paris, but together with the Faculty of Law he visited much more diligently the prestigious private Academy of Art Julian. Again obediently, he exercised his profession of jurist for some time before dedicating himself completely to art.

In his years spent in Paris he created numerous street landscapes and interior paintings, but from the muted colours and from the obvious lack of mood in the paintings from his Parisian period it becomes clear that Pierre has not been very happy in the capital. Paris has not been his exact place.

Maybe that’s why at the age of 43 he moved to southern France, in a cottage on La Route de Serra capeou near Le Canne, where he stayed for the rest of his life.

Pierre Bonnard experimented in different styles – post-impressionism, symbolism, art nuovo, expressionism. With the years he has affirmed his own approach in each of these styles, which some art critics call intimism.

Intimism in the sense of the focus on privacy, distance from the big societal problems, sinking into daily life. Maybe that’s why Picasso considered Pierre Bonnard a non-decisive (according to Wikipedia).

But is there a greater determination than sinking in the simple life with a few close and loved people? Is there a more secure test for the value of one person and for his attitude to the life?

Sometimes simple is harder. To live every day with your eyes widely open, over and over again. The courage to live is also a determination.

Look at this picture.

This is his wife Martha, who carries a bowl of milk to their cat at night. The cat is waiting for her outside the painting. Martha seems very sleepy while carrying the milk carefully. She is dressed in a long robe, which looks violet in the moonlight. It is cold inside the room. The moon patiently illuminates the world.

Isn’t it simply wonderful?

You can take a look at his artworks here.