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PaperCity Dallas November 2023

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into the finished work. A lot of times he gives us clues as to where we're supposed to focus our attention — like putting a little dog right on the edge of a table with a tablecloth that points straight at him. Or he'll consign something that's really important to the edge of a composition, where you might miss it if you didn't pay attention. This show will be full of those opportunities. I hope it's one that people will want to see more than once. WW: On light and color in these evocative canvases. GS: Many of Bonnard's paintings are about the action of light. Light coming in a window, for instance, or the glare of an electric light bulb. Color and composition are the elements with which he conveys that action, and they're critical. Light can start out yellow and turn blue as it moves into a room, or a garish light fixture can make the inside of a cupboard glow blood red. When Bonnard saw something like that happening, he seized it. He might make a quick note of it, just as a reminder. But then the challenge came, using color and composition to convey the emotion that went along with the idea. It could be wonder; it could be affection; it could be mourning. In the end, I don't think it matters whether we feel the same thing Bonnard looked at Bonnard's work or found inspiration in his painting? GS: The impact that Bonnard had on American painting is a fascinating subject. The answer is that we don't really know who was impressed by what and when — at least I haven't found documentation about it. What we can say is that the MoMA/Cleveland retrospective held the year after Bonnard's death [1948] was a superb exhibition — many of the paintings in our show were there — and it was the first occasion that many painters of the post-war period would have had to see Bonnard's work in depth. And there's no way to go into a room full of Bonnards and not have strong feelings about them. So, I think a painter like Rothko, who was already so attuned to color, couldn't have seen the show without learning something from it. I feel the same way about the relationship between Bonnard's compositions and those of Richard Diebenkorn. And with so many great paintings by Bonnard in Washington at The Phillips Collection, there's a good chance that they were important for the Washington color-field painters — Morris Louis, Sam Gilliam, Alma Thomas, and the early Kenneth Noland. Speaking of The Phillips Collection, we know that Rothko did, as long as we open ourselves up to feel. WW: Is there a particular work or works among the paintings you have selected for the exhibition that you consider most important? GS: I am parti- cularly thrilled that we've been able to bring the three great late bathers, painted between about 1936 and 1946, together in the States for the first time in 25 years. One is in Paris, one is in Pittsburgh, and the third is in a private collection. There was a time six months ago when I thought none of them might come. To get all three is nothing short of amazing. WW: There have been theories that Bonnard influenced Rothko. Could you expand on this thought? Which modern and contemporary painters may have went there to see how Duncan Phillips had made a room entirely devoted to Rothko. He is bound to have been happy that his works were being given the same reverence that Bonnard's were. For more with George Shackelford, including his insights into the Kimbell at 50, visit "Bonnard's Worlds," November 5, 2023 – January 28, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, ROYAL MUSEUMS OF FINE ARTS OF BELGIUM, BRUSSELS, INV. 6519 © 2023 ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK Above: Pierre Bonnard's Dining Room in the Country, 1913; Top: Pierre Bonnard's Nu à contre-jour (The Bathroom or The Dressing Room with Pink Sofa), 1908 MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART, THE JOHN R. VAN DERLIP FUND © 2023 ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK 128

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