Monday, January 3, 2011
Emile Bernard was born on April 28, 1868 and died on April 16, 1941. He was a Post-Impressionist painter who was friends with Cezanne, Gauguin, Boch and Van Gogh. Bernard helped to start two art movements Synthetism and Cloisonnism. Synthetism was meant to synthesize three features of art being the artist’s feelings about their subject; the outward appearance of natural forms; and the purity of line, color and form. Cloisonnism was when an object was outlined and then colored in using one flat color. Bernard’s Breton Women and Children highlights this style. This can be seen by looking at figures and how the two women in the center have such heavy black outlining around them and are filled in with a very muted brown.
Bernard studied at College Sainte Barbe but was expelled for insubordinate behavior which included being expressive in his paintings. Once he was expelled from school Bernard went on a backpacking trip to Brittany and met Gauguin. After his trip to Brittany he went back home to move into his parents and saw his first exhibition with Seurat and Signac. A year later Bernard was invited to Seurat’s studio and Bernard was extremely interested in the Pointilism art movement, however Bernard and his friend Anquetin decided instead to start painting in the Cloisonnism style. During this time Bernard also met Van Gogh who arranged an exhibition with his own work along with Bernard, Anquetin and Koning.
“The first means that I use is to simplify nature to an extreme point. I reduce the lines only to the main contrasts and I reduce the colors to the seven fundamental colors of the prism. To see a style and not an item. To highlight the abstract sense and not the objective. And the second means were to appeal to the conception and to the memory by extracting yourself from any direct atmosphere. Appeal more to internal memory and conception. There I was expressing myself more, it was me that I was describing, although I was in front of the nature. There was an invisible meaning under the mute shape of exteriority.” This quote does a fantastic job of describing the ways in which Bernard worked within the Cloisonnism style. The point of this style was to outline certain objects in black so that they would stand out from the rest of the painting. Cloisonnism was very close to Symbolism in that the symbols in the paintings were meant to stand out, just within Cloisonnism the artists went about it in a different manner.