Write Around PAM: Pierre Bonnard

Image description: Family Scene. Pierre Bonnard. 1892. Color lithograph on paper. Image: 21.7 x 26. 7cm; Sheet: 27.9 x 39.6 cm. This lithograph features a tightly cropped view of three members of the artist’s family: his father, his sister, and between the two, the infant grandson. Against a flat tan background, the older man on the left appears in partial profile with just one ear and part of one eyeglass lens visible. His curling white and beige hair, which grows at the side of his bald head, trails out of the frame. His thick white beard adds texture to the print, in contrast to the flat black and tan clothing that is barely visible in the lower left-hand corner. The baby is the main focus of the piece. His round, hairless head has upward slanting almond-shaped eyes, a pug nose, and a mouth opened in a small “O.” Both chubby hands are curled in fists and his white swaddling gown encircles his head from the level of the eyes and continues flowing downward and off to the right side. The baby’s mother grips him with her left hand. Only her outstretched arm and part of her head are shown along the right side of the piece with the rest of her body disappearing out of the frame. Her head, filling the upper right corner of the print, shows both eyes, her nose, and a lock of hair rendered in heavy black paint.
Pierre Bonnard, Family Scene, 1892. Color lithograph on paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (by exchange), 570.1951. Digital image c The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource. NY. 2021 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

As the current Private Lives exhibition makes clear, the Nabis artists loved depicting children. Not only were they part of the artists’ intimate family circles, but children also offered an example of how to view the world with a fresh perspective. Drawing inspiration from Pierre Bonnard’s Family Scene, we invite you to write from the perspective of your younger self, or the young people in your life, and consider the question, how do children experience the world?

We have two prompts to help you get started.  Choose one, both, or write whatever else comes. Set a timer for 15 minutes and just keep your pen or pencil moving.

My earliest memory… / When I was 3 (or 5 or 12, etc)…

Discover the many, delightful babies and children of the Nabis artists when you visit Private Lives: Home and Family in the Art of the Nabis, Paris, 1889–1900.

Writing in community is powerful. We are grateful to our longtime partner Write Around Portland for the writing prompts and inspiration. You can revisit past Sunday posts and look for continuing weekly posts through the year. Please share your work with us!  @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM

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