Torea Frey

Editor, writer, photographer, observer on the street.

Femmes au Jardin

Our plane got in to Paris at 6 a.m., and after we dropped our bags at the hotel in the Latin Quarter, we did quite a bit of wandering, ultimately ending up at Musee d'Orsay. The space is amazing -- it was once a railway station -- and its collection consists of a good deal of Impressionist and post-Impressionst works, including those by artists such as Monet, Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Cézanne. (One note on Cézanne: comparing Apples and oranges as reproduced in books and as it is rendered in its full glory on canvas is like, well, comparing apples and oranges. It is spectacular up close.)

I'm familiar with a lot of these fellows, but my art history is otherwise a little weak. So I was delighted to discover a room devoted to Les Nabis, a collective of artists in France in the late 19th century; the four paintings above make up Femmes au jardin, 1891, by Pierre Bonnard, a co-founder of the group. I'll have to do more research when I the closest reference is not Wikipedia (and when I've had more than two hours of sleep on an airplane to fuel me), but generally, Les Nabis was "considered to be on the cutting edge of modern art during their early period; their subject matter was representational (though often symbolist in inspiration), but was design oriented along the lines of the Japanese prints they so admired, and art nouveau."

Bonnard's Le chat blanc (1894), Paul Ranson's Lustral (1891), Edouard Vuillard's Portrait de K-X Roussel dit le liseur (1890), and Paul Sérusier's Le talisman (1888) also stood out.