- McWilliam, NF. Emile Bernard: Les Lettres d’un artiste (1884-1941). Les presses du réel,
(May, 2012): 981 pages.
Comprising some 430 letters, this selection of correspondence by the French painter Emile Bernard (1868- 1941) highlights one of the most complex and little known artists of the modern period. As a young member of the Parisian avant-garde during the 1880s, Bernard frequented Gauguin, Van Gogh, Anquetin and Redon before abandoning France for the Middle East in 1893. While there, he rejected modern art and became an outspoken champion of traditional values, for which he continued to fight after returning to Europe in 1904. Lively and intelligent, Bernard’s letters are rich in observations on his own art and the ideas that inspired it, as well as in critical assessments of his contemporaries. Bernard’s correspondence offers remarkable insights into the artist’s life and into the period during which he worked. It is destined to become an essential source for understanding modernist and anti-modernist currents during a period crucial to the history of French art.