Georges Bernède: The Advent of Abstraction in Bordeaux

Georges Bernède is one of the best-kept secrets in the international art world. He was born in Monségur, near Bordeaux, in 1926, and before becoming a painter he was apprenticed in his father's wood-working and joinery business. Then, in the war years, and with the inspiring tuition of Mildred Bendall (1891-1977), an Anglo-French artist of Fauvist colour and vigour who had taken refuge in Monségur, he began to paint, developing a figurative expressionist style of his own. Learning swiftly, he moved towards abstraction, and since then he has gone on to refine and distil an intensely painterly language of great personal freedom and distinction.

Whitford Fine Art represents the estate of Mildred Bendall, and it is through her connection with Bernède that his work is now being offered to the British public. Bendall began to encourage Bernède in 1942, and within a few years he was publicly exhibiting work in a post-cubist idiom, using colour both structurally and emotionally. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s he showed in the yearly exhibitions of Artistes Indepéndants de Bordeaux, Groupe Sève and Groupe Le Regard. In the late 1960s, he moved into a period of colourful abstraction which lasted until 1984 when he began to experiment with the almost monochrome style which has become his trademark. 

Whitford Fine Art offers collectors an unparalleled chance to discover an artist of the French school who has yet to be widely recognized. Although Bernède has made a good living from selling his work for more than half a century, he has only ever exhibited in the Bordeaux area. Thus his reputation, though healthy, is inevitably localized, and the demand for his work has been such that he has not needed to go farther afield for sales. Now, in a period when French modern masters are beginning to be seriously reassessed (see the recent spate of exhibitions devoted to the nonagenarian Pierre Soulages), Georges Bernède emerges fresh on the international market at highly competitive prices.