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Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard

*  1867 Fontenay-aux-Roses
† 1947 Le Cannet/Cannes

Already during his studies of law, which he began in 1885, Pierre Bonnard enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris. There he met Paul Sérusier and Maurice Denis, co-founders of the artist group 'Nabis', founded in 1888, which he joined in 1889. The same year he was accepted at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he met with Edouard Vuillard. Together they studied works by van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet, but they were most impressed by Paul Gauguin. Bonnard was represented with five paintings at the 'Salon des Indépendants' in 1891. He began attending to printed graphics and designed the poster 'France-Champagne'. Due to the success of this work he abandoned law and attended entirely to his artistic work.: between 1889 and 1902 c. 250 lithographs for posters, wall and theatre decorations as well as illustrations for the journal 'Revue Blanche' came into existence. In 1896 his first one-man show took place at the gallery Durand-Ruel in Paris. His experiences with commercial art also influenced his painting. Beside the economy of colour, lines got a special dynamic - they became the carrier not only of movement, but also of mental expression. Bonnard first found his motifs in the metropolis Paris: small, moment-like every-day scenes, often depicted from an unusual point of view. At the turn of the century, he began to disengage from the elements of Art Nouveau and Symbolism, the formerly reserved colours gave way to a light, colourful palette, the city scenes were displaced more and more by pastoral, idyllic scenes as well as nudes and interiors. In 1900 Bonnard exhibited for the first time with the 'Nabis' at the gallery Bernheim-Jeune. Over the years he travelled to England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, often together with his friend Vuillard, with whom he also travelled to Hamburg on invitation by Alfred Lichtwark in 1913. During the 1920s Bonnard developed his mature artistic style and left the label 'Nachimpressionismus' [Afterimpressionism] far behind in the unusually complicated compositions and delicately artful colourfulness. His life flew more smoothly then: in 1925 he married and found his domicile in the southern-French Le Cannet one year later. Greater exhibitions followed at the Kunsthaus Zurich in 1932, at the gallery Wildenstein in New York in 1934. Awards and honours accompanied a life dedicated to painting, which ended on 23 January 1947.