Posted by: cboulay | March 24, 2009

“The Art of Making a World”


Pierre Bonnard circa 1906


Pierre Bonnard Portrait of the Artist in the Bathroom Mirror


Bonnard La femme au chat (Woman with cat)


Bonnard The Breakfast Table


Pierre Bonnard Nude in the Tub


Bonnard Crouching Nude in the Tub


Bonnard La salle de bain (The bathroom)


Bonnard L’homme et la femme (The man and the woman)


Bonnard La toilette


Bonnard The Window


Bonnard The almond tree in blossom


Joan Mitchell


Joan Mitchell Sunflowers


Bonnard The Bath


Bonnard Young Women in the Garden



  1. While I have melancholy feelings about this author I know at the same time that it should not be so…something about reading someone’s life and then inspecting the paintings adds a whole nother layer of verbal paint that you can’t exactly see but still you know it colors every piece. I can’t get it out of my head that I ought to feel sorry for Bonnard because his wife was crazy, but I look at these pictures and I can’t…something about the Kimmelman reading that suggests that the frailty in one was the strength in the other. It hardly seems fair that Marthe is judged for her paranoia and desire for privacy–every time she wanted to go to the bathroom her husband was standing there, paintbrush in hand. Seriously though, I like the idea that, “he adapted to her fragilities, which worsened over time, while he also got what he wanted from her.”

    Maybe he painted her so often because he was afraid that one day she’d just be gone, poof like the wind, and he wanted to make he had her figure down pat?

    Anyway, I really enjoy “The Breakfast Table”, the light is too beautiful and golden and the trees so cartoonish and symmetrical outside, even the table shines. It is perpetually a good day in so many of those paintings. Bonnard painted day after day after good day.

  2. I found Bonnard’s life to be quite interesting. Very typical of the early 20th century artist in which romantic affairs, chaotic relationships, suicide, depression, and beauty are the muses for a young, confused artist.
    With that being said, the above paintings are seeping with emotion, even down to the photograph of Bonnard circa 1906. From a distance, the colors grab the viewers’ attention, but it’s the texture and minute detail of each stroke that really lets each painting blossom. “The Bath” is extremely eerie considering what happened to Renee, but I guess that’s art.
    Converging the bottom painting, “Young Women In The Garden” with “The Bath”, it’s interesting to see how Bonnard appreciated both the extroverted, delightful day as well as the mysterious darkness of the troubled persona.
    I also like his response to Matisse declaring his contention without poverty. A well-written, clear essay and a few great paintings.

  3. **contention without luxury

    I meant

  4. I liked the passage “The Art of Making a World” by Kimmelman, I found it to be really interesting. Bonnard’s life with Marthe sounded so relaxing because it consisted of painting his wife and going for nice long walks all day. The story sort of got a little boring, but then it picked up again when they spoke about the relationship he had with Renee. The part i enjoyed the most was the fact that throughout the whole story it seemed as id Bonnard was bored in his life and wanted to change, which is when he choose to go to Renee. However when this happened Marthe stopped him and made him promise to never do something like this again. It was interesting to me how Renee came back into the picture at the end of the story, allowing Bonnard to have something he always wanted, but could never have.

  5. I really liked this particular piece of writing. I too question whether Bonnard really loved and wanted to be with Marthe. In my mind, this question was answered by the painting “Young Women in the Garden, “ in which he paints Renee’ with Marthe in the background. I think that Renee was Bonnard’s true love and that he memory was forever plagued by her death. He may have even been a little resentful to Marthe for the death. I believe that Bonnard was simply attached to and comfortable with Marthe and that he may have stayed with her because he thought she needed him. The situation between them was interesting and the love their shared was very complex.

    I was also interested in the self-portrait that Bonnard did. I wondered what it would be like to paint myself using a picture that someone else had taken of me. Would I look happier than photographed or more vulnerable and sad? What would this say about me and how I really feel about myself?

  6. I really liked the piece “The Art of Making a World” and to repeat what the others have been saying, I found it to be relaxing and peaceful. Moreover, the pictures accompany it beautifully and capture the serene atmosphere in which he lived. The paintings really show his appreciation for women and his love for the human body as most of the paintings are of naked women.

  7. I enjoyed reading Kimmelman’s response to the artist Bonnard. The essay is written very casually which eases the reader through the information and makes the information seem easily accessible to all. Kimmelman opened my eyes to a side of the relationship between Bonnard and Marthe that I had never known about which led me to have a greater understanding of the paintings in which Bonnard and Marthe share a very special intimacy.

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