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  • Pierre Bonnard
    Oct 03, 1867 - Jan 23, 1947
  • At the Races, Longchamp - 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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At the Races, Longchamp
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  • At the Races, Longchamp

  • Pierre Bonnard
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    circa 1894
    Oil on panel
    Private Collection.

    Painted in 1894, Aux courses reflects on the tradition of equestrian painting established by Bonnard’s predecessors: Gericault, Delacroix, Manet and Degas. For these artists, horse races served as a testament to their abilities, from capturing the grace and agility of the horses to the alluring culture and fashion surrounding the race. As often found in Bonnard’s paintings, the artist explores the essence of an environment; he strikes a balance between the architectural formalities of space and the nature of an evolving movement. Bonnard plays with composition and color, juxtaposing the fretful foreground, filled with spectators, against the verdant rolling fields of the countryside behind them. By doing so, Bonnard’s painting captures the spirit of modern life: its fleeting moments and social theatrics. He depicts the horse races as a public spectacle, not solely focusing on the horses and riders. Furthermore, Bonnard does not distance the riders from the public, painting them amongst the fashionably dressed spectators.
    However, Bonnard was not interested in what was merely fashionable. Rather, he sought to depict the captivating incidents of the everyday. Critic Roger Marx praised Bonnard for his ability to capture unconscious gestures, writing that Bonnard “has the gift for picking out and quickly seizing the picturesque in every spectacle” (quoted in Pierre Bonnard, The Graphic Art (exhibition catalogue), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, p. 127). By depicting the group of horses and riders in a seemingly haphazard configuration, Bonnard’s works seems as if it’s captured photographically, adding to the painting’s ephemeral quality.

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Other paintings by Pierre Bonnard:

At the Circus
At the Circus
At the Fence
At the Fence
Au Grand-Lemps (Dauphine)
Au Grand-Lemps (Dauphine)
Autumn Landscape (Vernon Surroundings)
Autumn Landscape (Vernon Surroundings)
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.