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The Art of JAMA
June 14, 2016

Still-Life With Orange: Émile Bernard

JAMA. 2016;315(22):2380-2381. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.14307

When does the convergence of color, shape, line, and texture become more than the simple means to record a scene? How do they combine to produce a feeling, or an emotion? At what point does art cross the threshold from picture to idea? These were questions facing the painter Émile Bernard (1868-1941) and many of his contemporaries at the end of the 19th century. At least according to one critic, Adolphe Retté, writing in the magazine L’Ermitage, Bernard had provided some answers: “Paint for us landscapes which are symbols, portraits which are thoughts—in other words pictures where lines and tones represent an idea; you [Bernard] have what it takes to do that.”