Bonnard’s folding screens are generally understood as part of the phenomenon of japonisme, a widespread fascination with Japanese culture in Europe that emerged during the second half of the nineteenth century. When they begin to appear and then alter the representation of space in Bonnard’s painting, however, japonisme no longer provides an adequate framework for understanding their role in his art. I endeavor to account for the continued life of the non-Western object in the Western context by highlighting the folding screen’s capacity to disrupt and engender change even as it disappears from Bonnard’s late paintings. After an overview of the artist’s folding screens and their relation to japonisme, I trace their migration into Bonnard’s paintings, where the limits of this Western construct become more apparent. I propose an alternate framework—ornamentalism—within which to interpret their integration into the compositional structure of the late paintings. Ornamentalism views the ornamental object as a subject whose power to act is tied to its own degradation under imperialist and colonialist practices. Through it, I consider how the evolution of the folding screen in Bonnard’s art can help us think differently about the dynamics between Western artists and non-Western objects.

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