It seems somehow revolutionary that a turquoise-blue painting graces the cover of Bonnard, the catalog accompanying a 1998 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The color of the endpapers--deep yellow--tells readers that even the book designers know with which end of the color spectrum most viewers associate this sensuous painter. The translucent-looking, sun-struck, golden woman in the bathtub--the artist's wife and favorite model--is so emblazoned on our memories that it takes an exhibition like the one documented in this book to remind viewers of Bonnard's extraordinary range as a colorist.
The early, intimate, Nabi paintings are often dark, with figures that stand out like candle flames in shadowy interiors. But Bonnard's use of umber, sienna, and various blacks--occasionally in the shape of a dachshund--is forever part of what makes those brilliant reds and oranges sing. Even 60 years into his career, the painter gave full range to his palette, balancing the most highly colored canvasses with others of pale, soft grays. Those readers who have been succored on the 1984 Phillips Collection catalogue will find MoMA's new one every bit as nourishing.
In meticulous, often scientific, detail he decodes Bonnard's use of color, perspective and other devices in his optical bag of tricks. -- The New York Times Book Review, Scott Veale
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