Bonnard, Pierre

Bonnard, Pierre Biography

Bonnard was born in Fontenay-aux-Roses, a suburb of Paris. Bonnard first studied law but in 1887 enrolled in oil painting and drawing classes at the Academie Julian in Paris. The following year Bonnard and fellow students-including Vuillard, Maurice Denis, and Paul Serusier-founded a group called the Nabis (French for "prophets"). The Nabis felt art should be decorative rather than overly naturalistic; they were inspired by the oil paintings of French painter Paul Gauguin and by the simplified shapes and unusual compositions of Japanese prints. Bonnard's use at this time of flat, simple shapes and broad areas of single colors earned him the nickname "the very Japanesque Nabi." Bonnard's later style of subtly interwoven strokes of color owed more to the work of French impressionist painters such as Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet.

Bonnard's best-known oil paintings are interior scenes of domestic life. He abandoned traditional shading from dark to light tones and, after an initial phase of using somber colors, developed an increasingly bright palette. Because many of his oil paintings represent the daily rituals of life at home, even intimate activities such as bathing, Bonnard is often described, together with his friend and fellow painter Edouard Vuillard, as an intimist.

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