31.5.11

New York



View through the window of a corner cafe, Union Square.
I spent some time in New York this month. I still have the sensation of seeing certain paintings by Bonnard in the Metropolitan Museum and at MOMA fresh in my memory. I’m still trying to articulate to myself just what it is about Bonnard that makes such an impression on me.


Pierre Bonnard, The Dressing Room, 1914, oil on canvas, The Metropolitan Museum Of Art.

Painting is never just a visual phenomenon. It is about the body and how the mind’s eye becomes physical through touch. Bonnard seems to rebuild the world in painting. He uses certain painterly components of a certain kind, limited in their range but with sufficient variety to enable him to reconfigure (at the equivalent of an atomic level) the nature of things - light and material become one thing. A typical 'Bonnardian' head is painted in exactly the same way as say a jug on a table which that same painted head seems to contemplate. Bonnard had his own very specific touch which had its origins in his bodily being and the multitude of indefinable qualities that made it up.
Painterly components governed by sensibility (I use this word with its explicit links to our all our senses). I have my own supply of painting components to use of course. Whether they are painted marks, collaged forms or materials, drawn lines, accumulations etc. they all present themselves in a painting as a kind of combined energy. There are gestures, but also placements, idle deposits or very precise positioning of elements. I think I can finally understand that a painting is a figure – not just a figure on a ground but the painting as a figure in its own right which is both concealed and disclosed in the process of making.

All the photographs in this post are my own. I also looked at paintings by Courbet, Braque, Derain and Matisse.



Pierre Bonnard, The Dressing Room, 1914, oil on canvas (detail).


Pierre Bonnard, The Dressing Room, 1914, oil on canvas (detail).
Pierre Bonnard, After the Bath, 1910, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum Of Art.
Pierre Bonnard, After the Bath, 1910, oil on canvas (detail).
Georges Braque, The Garden Chair, 1947-60, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum Of Art.


Georges Braque, The Garden Chair, 1947-60, oil on canvas (detail).
Georges Braque, The Garden Chair, 1947-60, oil on canvas (detail).

André Derain, The Sunken Path, 1906, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

André Derain, The Sunken Path, 1906, oil on canvas (detail).

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