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  • Pierre Bonnard
    Oct 03, 1867 - Jan 23, 1947
  • Avenue du Bois in Boulogne - Pierre Bonnard was a French painter who helped provide a bridge between impressionism and the abstraction explored by post-impressionists. He is known for the bold colors in his work and a fondness for painting elements of everyday life, member of the group of artists called the Nabis and afterward a leader of the Intimists; he is generally regarded as one of the greatest colourists of modern art.
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Avenue du Bois in Boulogne
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  • Avenue du Bois in Boulogne

  • Pierre Bonnard
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  • 1905
    Oil on board
    Private Collection.

    Painted in 1905, Avenue du Bois depicts a grand boulevard at the end of which the majestic Arc de Triomphe leads into the heart of Paris. Bonnard took joy in observing the crowded streets in this part of the metropolis and the interplay between the busy life of the city and the beautiful small parks that lined its streets. The present composition is divided between these two features of the Avenue de Bois de Boulogne, which was renamed Avenue Foch in 1929 (fig. 1). The artist has depicted numerous figures and animals, some walking, others on bicycles or horses, all captured with a remarkable sense of movement, reflecting Bonnard's fascination with the energy and dynamic life of the metropolis. Avenue de Bois displays a radically modern approach to the composition, shifting the focus away from its centre to the two different aspects of the work. This seemingly nonchalant positioning of the perspective suggests a chance momentary glimpse, rather than a carefully staged ensemble.

    Bonnard shared his fascination with the city with Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists, including Caillebotte, Monet and Pissarro, all of whom executed a number of works depicting Parisian boulevards, squares and bridges, usually characterised by a sense of the rich and varied life of the city. Gustave Geffroy commented: 'no-one is quicker than Bonnard to seize the look of our Parisian streets, the silhouettes of a passer-by and the patch of colour which stands out in the Metropolitan mist. [He] seizes on all the momentary phenomena of the street, even the most fugitive glances are caught and set down' (G. Geffroy, quoted in Pierre Bonnard (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1996, p. 16).

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Other paintings by Pierre Bonnard:

Autumn Morning (The Great View of Vernon)
Autumn Morning (The Great View of Vernon)
Autumn: The Fruit Pickers
Autumn: The Fruit Pickers
Basket and Plate of Fruit on a Red Checkered Tablecloth
Basket and Plate of Fruit on a Red Checkered Tablecloth
Basket of Oranges and Roses
Basket of Oranges and Roses
Pierre BonnardPierre Bonnard was a French Post-Impressionist painter remembered for his ability to convey dazzling light with juxtapositions of vibrant color. “What I am after is the first impression—I want to show all one sees on first entering the room—what my eye takes in at first glance,” he said of his work. Born on October 3, 1867 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France, Bonnard studied law at the Sorbonne, graduating in 1888. During this time, he was also enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts but left to attend the Académie Julian in 1889. At this more open-minded painting academy, Bonnard met Maurice Denis, Paul Sérusier, and Édouard Vuillard, among others. Together with these artists he helped from a group known as the Nabis, who were influenced by Japanese prints and the use of flat areas of color. Early on in his career, Bonnard was better known for his prints and posters than for his paintings. Moving to the South of France in 1910, over the following decades, Bonnard receded from the forefront of the art world, mainly producing tapestry-like paintings of his wife Marthe in their home. Late works of Bonnard, such as The Terrace at Vernonnet (1939), more closely resembled a continuation of Impressionism than other avant-garde styles of the era. Because of this, at the time of his death on January 23, 1947 in Le Cannet, France, the artist’s work had been largely discounted as regressive. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.