Phillips Petting Zoo: Pierre Bonnard

Installation view of two works by Pierre Bonnard in the Snapshot exhibition, both in the permanent collection at The Phillips Collection. At left is Dogs, 1893. Lithograph on Paper, 15 x 11 in. At right is Woman with Dog, 1922. Oil on canvas, 27 1/4 x 15 3/8 in. Photo: Joshua Navarro

When I entered Snapshot, the pairing of Bonnard’s painting Woman with Dog (above right) with his lithograph Dogs (above left) delighted me. By my count, the exhibition features five works in which Bonnard includes canines, and I love how each picture captures dogs doing what dogs do—begging, cuddling, running, playing, etc.

Look more closely at Dogs. Did you notice how the fluffy dog in the mid-ground is sniffing the rear of the pup he’s next to? Behind them, Bonnard includes three pooches in play bows as they get acquainted before galloping off. Do you see the black smears throughout the composition? Funny how they resemble paw prints, as though the pups ran across the surface of the composition. Continue reading “Phillips Petting Zoo: Pierre Bonnard” »

What’s your name again?: The Love Story of Pierre and “Marthe” Bonnard

Walking through the Phillips’s new Snapshot exhibition, a viewer encounters hundreds of personal photographs by  seven artists. In some cases, these photos are exploratory studies for future paintings and prints. Most of the time, however, they simply document the artist’s everyday life. What’s striking about the photographs on display is not only how much they extol the artists’ aesthetic sensibilities, but how much they  reveal about their private lives. These artists photographed their true loves, whether the streets of Amsterdam, nieces and nephews playing in the backyard of a country manor, or, in many cases, the women in their lives.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this is the first in a series of three love stories, featuring artists in the exhibition—Pierre Bonnard, Henri Evenepoel, and Edouard Vuillard—and the ladies they loved.

Bonnard, Marthe in Montval, standing by a chair, 1900-01. Modern print from original negative; 1 1/2 x 2 1/8 in. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of the children of Charles Terrasse, 1992.

Legend has it that a 26-year-old Pierre Bonnard met 16-year-old Marthe de Méligny when he helped her cross a Paris street in 1893. Marthe had just moved to Paris after leaving her hometown of Saint-Amand-Montrond, a small town south of Bourges, and was working in a shop making artificial flowers for funerals. As the story goes, they fell in love and dedicated their lives to one another until her death in 1942. Happily ever after, right? Continue reading “What’s your name again?: The Love Story of Pierre and “Marthe” Bonnard” »

Meet Snapshot: Pierre Bonnard

Over the next few days, we’ll introduce you to the artists featured in Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard, on view at the Phillips February 4 through May 6.

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
Painter and printmaker Pierre Bonnard is acclaimed for his intensely expressive use of color. He began using a camera late in the decade but lost interest in photography a few years later. Bonnard primarily photographed his family and friends at home or during summers in the countryside. He used many of his photographs of his mistress outdoors in the nude as studies for two large illustrated book commissions. Approximately 200 of his photographs have survived.