Thursday, December 17, 2015

Out of Character: Pierre Bonnard and Odilon Redon

I recently saw the Seattle Art Museum exhibit "Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art" that featured mostly small paintings from a variety of artists active 1860-1900, approximately. In other words, it covered pre-Impressionist modernism as well as Post-Impressionism, with perhaps less than half the works being mainstream Impressionism.

That was fine by me, because I mostly find the pre- and post- more interesting than hardcore Claude Monet type Impressionism. A character failing, I suppose, but that's why I call myself a Contrarian.

What caught my eye were a few works that struck me as being out-of-character for the artists who painted them. That prompted this post along with the new "Out of Character" theme.

The artists in question were Odilon Redon (1840-1916), biography here, and Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Wikipedia entry here. Below are the paintings I noticed in the exhibit along with some examples of their more typical work.


Odilon Redon

Closed Eyes - ca. 1894

Mystical Conversation - ca. 1896
Redon is usually considered a Symbolist.

Village by the Sea in Brittany - ca. 1880

Breton Village - ca. 1890
These crisp Brittany scenes are strikingly different from the smudgy Symbolism associated with Redon. What puzzles me are the dates attributed to these works. Given their similarity of style and setting, I think they were painted around the same time. I'd guess closer to 1880 than 1890.

Pierre Bonnard

Femme avec chien - 1891
The typical Bonnard painting has a busy surface often (though not here) with dabs of color atop bits of near-complementary colors.

Paris, rue de Parme on Bastille Day, 1890
But this Bonnard is extremely clean.  Perhaps it's just a study because I don't see a signature.


Hels said...

Happy New Year!

I am managing the History Carnival for January 2016 and need nominations for your own blog post or someone else’s by 31/1/2016. The theme I have chosen is History of the Visual, Performing, Musical and Literary Arts, but all good history posts will be welcomed. I love the history of art in Northern France by the way :)

Examine previous History Carnivals at

The January 2016 nomination form is at

Donald Pittenger said...

Hels -- I tend to be a write-and forget sorta blogger, but I'll keep this in mind.