The Nabis is a group of artists in France active in the 1890s.Through their widely diverse activities, they were a major influence on the art produced in France during the late 19th century. Preaching that a work of art is the end product and visual expression of an artist's synthesis of nature into personal aesthetic metaphors and symbols, they paved the way for the early 20th-century development of abstract and nonrepresentational art. Armed with his painting and the authority of Gauguin's teachings, Paul Serusier returned to Paris from Pont-Aven. He converted many of his artist friends, who received his aesthetic doctrines as a mystical revelation. Assuming the name Nabis the original members of the group were the French artist Maurice Denis (with Serusier as the group's main theoretician), Pierre Bonnard, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Paul Ranson, Edouard Vuillard, and Rene Piot. In 1891 the Nabis held their first exhibition, attempting in their works to illustrate Denis's dictum: "A picture, before being a war horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered by colors in a certain order." They soon began to apply this idea to such varied works as posters, stained glass, theater sets, and book illustrations. But dissensions and desertions quickly occurred within the group, which finally disbanded in 1899. Only Vuillard and Bonnard, who came to call themselves Intimists, and Maillol continued to produce major works of art.
Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) was a classmate and friend of Denis. He attended Maillarts atelier, briefly attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and then enrolled in the Academie Julian where he joined the Nabis group. His intimist paintings reveal the influence of Gauguin, Degas and Japanese prints. Drawn to the theatre, Vuillard contributed many lithographed programmes for the Theatre Libre. Versed in the technique of distemper (size painting) from his experience with set design, Vuillard executed many decorative schemes for private clients in which he relied on subjects from his easel paintings (richly decorated interiors, parks in Paris). After 1900 his style of painting became more oriented towards social realism, particularly in the portraits executed towards the en of his life time. He never tired, however, of decorative painting, and executed large ensembles for Henri Berustein.

Coin de Salle a manger
(Corner of the Dining Room)

L'amandier cu fleurs
(The Almond Tree in Blossom)
Maurice Denis (1870-1943) stated that "It should be remembered that a picture--before being a war horse, a nude, or an anecdote of some sort--is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order." Denis had a gift for writing and because of that he became the theoretician of the Nabis and published the groups manifesto in the magazine Art et Critique in August 1890. The intimate, archaic, symbolist and often religious quality of his work led his friends to call him `le Nabi anz belles icones' (the Nabi of the beautiful icons). He undertook numerous decorative paintings for private clients as well as designs for the decorative arts (lampshades, fans, stained-glass, windows, wallpaper, etc.) He also made lithographs and several book illustrations as well as programmes and stage sets for the theatre. His trips to Italy reinforced his admiration for the Primitives and the artists of the Renaissance. His style evolved towards a classic expression that prevails in his large decorative schemes. With Rouault and Desvallieres he founded `Les Ateliers d' art Scare in 1919. As theoretician and historian of Symbolism he wrote the Histoire de l` art religieux (1939).

Bouquet de mimosas (Bunch of Mimosa)

Corbeille de fruits (Basket of Fruit)

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