Correspondences: Letters of Youth - Correspondances: Lettres de Jeunesse

Artist’s Name
Author’s Name
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
1944, Paris
rinted in one volume, size 31 x 22 cm
28 reproductions of pen and pencil drawings
Printed on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper:
  • 35 copies include an additional series of drawings on ‘Chine’ paper, numbered 1-35
  • 965 copies, numbered 36-1000
  • 25 copies, off the market, numbered I-XXV.
The French painter and graphic designer Pierre Bonnard had an unusual idea: to create a book that would have the essence and appearance of a school notebook. Tériade accepted this original concept with enthusiasm. This book contains fourteen letters, which were handwritten by pen that the artist had supposedly received and answered during his childhood years. Although the letters are imaginary, the artist has paid attention to detail in order to create something that seems real and authentic. Sketches drawn by memory complement the letters. As a means of expression, the artist chooses materials that are easy to use, such as pen, pencil and sketchpad paper. As a result, a few simple lines directly express essential notions and the reality of the world, without beautifying it.

As a reader browses through Bonnard’s book, it seems as if he has delved into the mind of an ‘innocent child’ who imprints instantaneously the images of his every day life. On the one hand, the sketches arouse pleasant memories; on the other hand, they represent the reality that everybody is forced to live in and to adapt himself to. These familiar sketches of everyday life present the contrast between two different worlds. The artist’s work can be divided into two sections; one has depictions of the countryside and the other of the city. The drawings of the countryside illustrate nature, a carefree and healthy lifestyle, people full of kindness and decency, family serenity as well as pure and true love. On the contrary, the drawings of the city express the problems of a ‘modern’ society, concerning isolation, mistrust, hypocrisy, strangeness, misery and war.