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Pierre Bonnard

Women in the Garden

1891

Open up to foreign cultures

I n 1891, Pierre Bonnard was a member of a group of young artists who called themselves the "Nabis", a term which in Hebrew means "  prophets  ". Refusing the quest for realism and academic teachings, the movement instead refers to spiritual, philosophical or esoteric concepts, in order to restore painting to its  sacred  ".

To shake up Western aesthetics, the Nabis turn to images from elsewhere. Japan, which has just opened up to international trade after two centuries of isolation

Kikugawa Eizan

(1787-1867)

ment, is then for French artists an original source of inspiration, in particular thanks to a wide distribution of prints. These Women in the Garden offer a fine example of this "  japonism  ". Firstly because they constitute a set of four canvases in a vertical format (1.60 m by 50 cm) designed like the panels of a Japanese screen. Secondly, because its aesthetics are Japanese-inspired: pure and precise lines, flat colors without seeking modelling, asymmetrical composition, absence of depth effect… Parisian elegance, at Bonnard, is combined with Japanese.

What we can take away:

Innovation, which generally proceeds from a reaction to established practices, often draws its strength not from the negation of any tradition, but from the recourse to another tradition. Observing foreign cultures allows us to change our view of our own: it is a question of drawing inspiration from them, without imitating them.

Related theme: Creativity
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