Following the controversy over the invention of symbolism in painting, which violently opposed him to Gauguin in 1891, Bernard moved to Cairo, where he reconsidered the Symbolists' schematic stylization and search for primitivism. His discovery of the old masters however led him gradually to renew his ties with tradition.
Back in France, he published some crucial witness testimony on Cezanne and writings on esthetics, taking issue with the avant-gardes in the name of the pictorial tradition. But, far from defining itself in terms of outmoded traditionalism, his art invariably bears the stamp of an inquisitive, tormented mind in search of the absolute in art.
CuratorsMarie-Paule Vial, chief curator, special assistant to the management of cultural action in Marseilles
Fred Leeman, art historian
Rodophe Rapetti, general curator, special adviser to the department of museums of France, heritage branch
Exhibition organised by the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, and the Kunsthalle of Brême
Also presented in Breme, Kunsthalle, from 7 February to 31 May 2015