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The Blush of the World: Bonnard's Nudes and the Disembodied Look


De Bolla Adelaide

Date: Friday 2 August 2013
Time: 1.00pm - 2.00pm
Venue: Stretton Room, Napier 420, The University of Adelaide
Keynote Speaker: Professor Peter de Bolla, The University of Cambridge
Enquiries: Janet Hart, Tel: 08 8313 2421



All welcome.


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This lecture sets out to provide a framework within which one
might begin to look at Bonnard’s canvasses depicting his wife,
Marthe, in the rituals of washing and bathing. It suggests that
the most common way of understanding Bonnard’s depiction
of his wife’s face – in ‘contre jour’ or shadow – fails to attend
to something more obviously somatic: the blush. I argue that
Bonnard was deeply immersed in a looking technique that was
implicated in the world. In effect the sighted viewer is placed
in a reciprocal optical relationship with the object seen. When
one begins to look with Bonnard the world feels the presence
and pressure of our looking and Bonnard’s depictions ask us
to acknowledge that.
This lecture is part of a longer project on Bonnard and in the
time for discussion and conversation I hope to introduce some
of its other themes and interests. In particular I hope to be
able to show some of what I call ‘Bonnard’s ghosts’, the
effects of pentimenti in his painting practice which I think
comprise one of the most profound acts of looking and
painting in the history of Western art.