In autumn and winter 2019/20 the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien is showing the first comprehensive retrospective in Austria devoted to the work of Pierre Bonnard (1887–1947). The exhibition concentrates on Bonnard’s mature work – which began after his first visit to the Côte d’Azur in 1909 – and the profound experience of Mediterranean light. Previously, Bonnard had lived mostly in Paris and Central France; now his palette changed, and the stark, refulgent colours characterised his paintings right through to his late work.

Bonnard’s multifaceted and constantly surprising work will be presented in numerous loans from international museums, including the Tate London, the New York Metropolitan Museum, the National Gallery in Washington, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek in Copenhagen, also several from renowned private collections.

The exhibition revolves around colour as the artist’s pivotal means of expression and composition. Bonnard develops and models not only moods but also spaces, entire compositions by means of colour chords and dissonances, the oppositions and interplay of warm and cooler tones. But the subtle blend and contrast of colour values is only one of the vehicles used by Bonnard to question the harmony of nature. His play with spatial blurring or “gaps” in staging his dramatis personae is just as subtle – time and again he seeks – as he himself formulated – to transcend nature through art.