“It’s not a matter of painting life. It’s a matter of giving life to painting,” Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) wrote in his last year. More than a decade earlier, in 1932, he noted in a daybook:
Show nature when it’s beautiful. Everything has its moment of beauty. Beauty is the fulfillment of seeing. Seeing is fulfilled by simplicity and order. Simplicity and order are produced by dividing legible surfaces, grouping compatible colors, etc.
These sentiments were well illustrated by “Bonnard: The Experience of Seeing,” a tightly focused but comprehensive exhibition at Acquavella Galleries that allowed us to explore some of the painter’s major themes from 1916 until his last years.