Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930

Exhibition

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A woman lays outside in a vibrant colored field.

Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890-1930 is an exhibition of unusually formatted and sometimes very large paintings and screens. Featuring 85 works from around the world, the exhibition explores the importance of decorative paintings from the 1890s to the early decades of the 20th century, focusing on the four artists most closely associated with the genre and also most successful with it; Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, and Ker Xavier Roussel.

These artists took from Gauguin the challenge to traditional easel painting, especially his notion that all art should be decorative. By making mural-like paintings and screens, they not only developed a new language for picture-making favoring large flat surfaces and allover design, they also returned art to its original function as decoration for a specific interior setting. In addition to at least five splendid folding screens, the exhibition includes and reunites paintings that, although once part of ensembles or series, have since been separated and dispersed into public and private collections. In some instances, the installation evokes the interior for which the works were originally conceived.

See the archived exhibition website here.


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