Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I just visited the brand new blog by Karen Witczak called Karen 5.0. Ms. Witzak will be writing about all things of interest to her fertile mind. If you visit my blog, go visit Karen's; she's a very intelligent writer. I had the honor to post the first comment on her blog. She had mentioned Bonnard (the show at The Met continues to April 27) as a possible subject, and it spurred my thoughts about that artist. And, since what I post about is art, I took that response as the text for tonight's posting for my own blog. See it below.
I owe it to myself, and to art, to view the Bonnard exhibit, however, my enduring impression of his work for a while has been a negative one. I first discovered him as a young artist. What appealed to me initially was his feeling, "incorrect" drawing. His sensual, "progressive" and "unconventional" color also struck me positively. I even remember that, for a while, when I was about 21, at times, I caught myself somewhat emulating Bonnard's touch, his thin paint application, and intuitive color, though my sense of drawing remained more perceptual than his. But, as life took me through changes, I found myself landing on the side of skepticism toward this practitioner. In a nut shell, I began to find his intuition, and his honesty, a bit put on. And I began to find his color, and his "naive" drawing contrived.  

I'm sure I could never prove that he's a bad artist, or that anyone should dislike him. But, as I matured in art, I developed my own sense of vision, and something like that brings with it a lot of subjectivity. I accept my subjectivity, at the same time that I pride myself on my very broad taste. I may not be able to account for precisely the reason I'm inclined to dislike Bonnard these days. If I think about it, I may even scorn him as representing a choice I made at a less mature stage of my life, and, therefore, as a symbol of my lesser maturity in those years. Well, that's not his fault, is it? I'll take another look at him, because he's a practitioner of art, a damned powerful thing in this world. And because art is a thing of such mystery that the next time I look I may be overtaken by a radically different view of a thing I thought was fixed.

1 comment:

  1. I too have felt sort of blah about Bonnard, but since I haven't see the show yet either I'll reserve judgment.

    I'm more open since the Morandi show. I have seen many Morandi paintings over the years and sort of liked them but not all that much. But seeing them in quantity made all the difference for me. I finally understood his aesthetic and the subtleties and humor as well as the sensuality of his work. Some artists do better in large shows and others (Elizabeth Payton most recently) are hurt by them.

    Besides, many people that I respect loved the Bonnard show.