Tuesday, March 6, 2012

BEAUTY: Painting--The Nabis

In the late 1880s and 1890s, a group of post-Impressionist painters in France, calling themselves The Nabis (a Hebrew and Arabic word which means prophet), heralded in a marvelous and important chapter in Art History. The original core members of this group, (artists Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Paul Ranson, and Félix Vallotton) created art movements that we now identify as Cloisonnism, Synthetism, and Symbolism, and made possible the movements of Fauvism, Expressionism, and even abstract art.

Having integrated the lessons of Impressionism and strongly desiring a new way forward, these artists began working in a deliberately naïve style, emulating woodblock prints from Asia, the two-dimensionality of Art Nouveau printwork,and the tonal fields of cloisonné. Their choice of form and color looks beautifully modern even today.

Below, we see two stunning works by Maurice Denis, Landscape With Green Trees and April. Landscape is so powerful precisely because of its limited color palette.

Next is the superb use of pattern in After The Lunch and The Flowered Dress by Edouard Vuillard,who lived with his dress-maker mother until he was sixty. Vuillard focused his work on interior scenes that feature intricate patterns; surely he was influenced by the fabric that must have been around the house, used by his mother.

Next we see the startling Marine Bleu, Effet de Vague by Georges Lacombe with its coral clouds and breaking waves on a deep, cobalt blue ocean.

Felix Vallotton painted the sublime Moonlight and The Ball (Corner of the park with child playing with a ball) with its unusual perspective, below.

And finally, a forest, trees, a river, and a mill in Paul Sérusier's savage, abstract The Talisman, the Aven River at the Bois d'Amour hint of art works and movements to come...

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