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The NGV Is Getting a World-Premiere Pierre Bonnard Exhibition with Scenography by Architect India Mahdavi

Launching June 9, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces showcase will feature more than 100 of the iconic French artist's works, alongside many more from his contemporaries.
By Libby Curran
February 27, 2023
By Libby Curran
February 27, 2023

The National Gallery of Victoria's revolving door of blockbuster exhibitions shows no sign of slowing, with an exceptional meeting of creative minds next set to grace its halls. Running from Friday, June 9–Sunday, October 8 as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, the NGV will play host to world-premiere exhibition Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi.

This major showcase is set to feature more than 100 works by the famed French painter, seen through a fresh lens as accompanied by contemporary scenography by internationally renowned architect and designer Mahdavi.

Originally slated to debut in 2020 before the pandemic did its thing, the highly anticipated exhibition has been curated in conjunction with Paris' Musée d'Orsay — home to the world's largest collection of Bonnard works.

'The dining room in the country', 1913, Pierre Bonnard. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The John R. Van Derlip Fund.

An icon of late 19th and early 20th century art, and a good mate of Henri Matisse, Bonnard is known for his colourful, textural depictions of French life, offering stylised yet subtle glimpses of intimate domestic scenes, urban backdrops and natural landscapes.

Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi will showcase a hefty collection of the artist's own paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and other decorative objects, alongside works from his contemporaries — including Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Félix Vallotton and cinematic pioneers the Lumière brothers.

'The window', 1925, Pierre Bonnard. Tate, London. Presented by Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill through the Contemporary Art Society, 1930.

Considered one of the world's most influential architects, multi-award-winning Mahdavi has been commissioned to help bring the historic pieces to life via her scenography, tasked with creating a setting that complements Bonnard's signature use of colour and light.

"Monsieur Bonnard and I share the same passion: colour," Mahdavi explains of the exhibition. "I love his subjective perception of colour — the way he transforms the intimacy of everyday life into something sublime."

Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi will include numerous pieces on loan from the Musée d'Orsay, as well as other museums and private collections in Europe, Australia and the USA. They'll be joined by significant works from the NGV's own collection, including Bonnard's 1900 painting La Sieste (Siesta).

'Siesta (La Sieste)', 1900, Pierre Bonnard. National Gallery of Victoria, Felton Bequest, 1949.

'Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi' will run at the NGV International from Friday, June 9–Sunday, October 8. For more information, see the venue's website.

Top image: 'Coffee', 1915, Pierre Bonnard. Tate, London. Presented by Sir Michael Sadler through the NACF, 1941.

Published on February 27, 2023 by Libby Curran
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