Bonnard (Integration and Pulls)

Pierre Bonnard - The Red Tablecloth - 1910 - 81 x 84 cm - 32 x33 in - oil on canvas

Integration or “knitting the composition together” is primary in composition and Bonnard was a master.

There are many ways to integrate and one is through shape motifs as I talked about in yesterday’s post.

Another way is by providing connections with sight lines or eye paths.

In this painting the strongest one is the vertical line running from the top down through her hand to the oval in the bowl.  Just to the right is a beautifully done subtle vertical above her right shoulder, which connects to a vertical in her blouse, then runs down the handle of the coffee pot.  It then continues down to the napkin.  Note on the next stripe how the shadow on the napkin permits your eye to continue through the napkin.

There is a superb pull for the dog, the dark shape at the figure’s left shoulder.   I find this exciting as I can feel Bonnard’s consideration, of knowing the dark value of the dog would dominate the composition without that pull.

What is a pull?  A pull is something that takes the viewer away from a strong element or the focus in a composition and Bonnard did it so well.

Also, note how the dog’s neck is integrated with a stripe on the table cloth.

Remember the poetic side of painting, which is, you are not meant to see, but rather to feel these considerations.

A last note.  The red vertical at the right.  Is it in front of the table top?

This shows us the level of sophistication of Bonnard’s work, and the connection to Cezanne and many other painters of the period, such as Matisse, Braque and Picasso.




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