Bonnard is often overlooked as an anachronism. He revisited Impressionism in middle age – having made his name as one of the ‘Nabis’, a follower of Gauguin. The late works are domestic and colourful and their reputation has waxed and waned over the years with his status often being indicative of prevailing fashion rather than reflecting the quality of the work itself.
A close friend of mine recently described Bonnard as ‘a painter’s painter’ which is – I think – an important observation. His best work is a fusion of colour, mark-making, composition, and subject matter resulting in profound meditations on space, home, and vulnerability. Making work that harnesses these elements – holding them in exquisite tension – is difficult. This visit will give you chance to see first hand how Bonnard managed this complex task.
I have recently read the superb introduction to his life and work by Timothy Hyman (Bonnard, published by Thanks and Hudson as part of the World of Art series). I recommend that students read this before the visit as it will help you get the best from the work on display. Bonnard’s work is subtle and seductive, making rigorous analysis tricky. Basically, it’s easy to drown in the colour. That’s no bad thing, but revelling in and studying a painting are two different experiences.
I will be outside the exhibition entrance (where I have met many of you before at the O’Keeffe and Rauschenherg shows), at 1pm. I will be having coffee/lunch in the nearby café from about noon and would be happy for you to join me there for a chat. I will speak to you all before entering the show and will be happy to speak over coffee from 3ish. I won’t be taking you round the show itself, but will come and chat to you individually as you go round. Tate Members can come and go as they please, but ticket holders are not allowed to re-enter the show once they have left it. There is, obviously, a wealth of other things to see at Tate Modern which is open from 10am until 6pm.
There will be a booking fee of £10 for the event. If you are interested in attending please complete this form.