Les Nabis (French pronunciation: [le nabi]) was a group of young French artists active in Paris from 1888 until 1900, who played a large part in the transition from impressionism and academic art to abstract art, symbolism and the other early movements of modernism. The members included Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Édouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Félix Vallotton, and Paul Sérusier. Most were students at the Académie Julian in Paris in the late 1880s. The artists shared a common admiration for Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne and a determination to renew the art of painting, but varied greatly in their individual style. They believed that a work of art was not a depiction of nature, but a synthesis of metaphors and symbols created by the artist. In 1900, the artists held their final exhibit, and went their separate ways.
The Nabis took their name from the Arabic word nabi, or prophet, and the similar word in Hebrew, nebiim, [a] The term was coined by the linguist Auguste Cazalis, who drew a parallel between the way these painters aimed to revitalize painting (as prophets of modern art) and the way the ancient prophets had rejuvenated Israel.
The Nabis was the name taken by a group of young artists of the Académie Julian in Paris, who wanted to transform the foundations of art. In October 1888 One of the artists, Paul Sérusier, had traveled to Pont-Aven, where, under the guidance of Paul Gauguin, he made a small painting of the port on wood, composed of patches of vivid color assembled to give the feeling of the port. The students called this first Nabis painting The Talisman, and it eventually became an icon of 20th century art.
In 1889, the same year of the Paris International Exposition and the opening of the Eiffel Tower, the group held its first modest exposition at the Café des Arts, which was located without the grounds of the Exposition. It was titled The Group Impressionist and Synthesist, and included works by two well-known artists, Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard.
In August 1890, Maurice Denis, then eighteen years old, gave the group a more concrete philosophy. Writing under the name Pierre Louis, he wrote an article in the journal Art et Critique entitled The Definition of Neo-traditionalism, which became the manifesto of the movement. The celebrated opening line of the essay was: "Remember that a picture, before being a battle horse, a female nude or some sort of anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order." This idea was not original to Denis; the idea had been forward not long before by Hippolyte Taine in The Philosophy of Art, where Taine wrote: "A painting is a colored surface, in which the various tones and various degrees of light are placed with a certain choice; that is its intimate being." However, it was the expression of Denis which seized the attention of artists. As Denis explained, he did not mean that form of the painting was more important than the subject. He wrote, "The profoundness of our emotions comes from the sufficiency of these lines and these colors to explain themselves...everything is contained in the beauty of the work." In his essay, he termed this new movement "neo-traditionalism", in opposition to the "progressivism" of the Neo-impressionists, led by Seurat.
The following year, in 1891, three of the Nabis, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis took a studio at 28 rue Pigalle in Paris, It was frequented by other early Nabis, including Ker-Xavier Roussel and Paul Sérusier, as well as journalists and figures from the theatrical and literary world.
In 1892, the Nabis branched out into the theatrical world and the decorative arts. Paul Ranson, assisted by Sérusier, Bonnard, and Vuillard, designed sets for a theatrical presentation of the Bateau ivre of the poet Arthur Rimbaud. Maurice Denis made costumes and sets for another theatrical production, the Trilogy d'Antoina at the Théatre Moderne, and also painted a ceiling for the residence of the art collector and painter Henry Lerolle.
In June 1894, the Nabis held a group exhibition in Toulouse, and in 1895, presented their work in the Maison de l'Art Nouveau, of Siegfried Bing, the famous gallery which had given its name to the Art Nouveau movement.
The Nabis throughout their existence, were a sort of half-serious semi-secret society, who used humorous nicknames and a private vocabulary. Even the name of the group was secret until 1897. They called a studio an ergasterium and ended their letters with the initials E.T.P.M.V. et M.P., meaning "En ta paume, mon verbe et ma pensée" (In your palm, my word and my thoughts.)
In 1909 Denis described the philosophy and accomplishment of the Nabis: "Art is no longer a visual sensation that we gather, like a photograph, as it were, of nature. No, it is a creation of our spirit, for which nature is only the occasion."
The graphic art of Japan, known as Japonism, particularly woodblock prints, was an important influence on the Nabis. The style was popularized in France by the art dealer Siegfried Bing, who traveled to Japan to collect prints by Hokusai and other Japanese artists, and published a monthly art journal, Le Japon Artistique, between May 1888 and April 1891, which offered color illustrations. In 1900 he organized an exhibit of seven hundred prints at the École des Beaux-Arts.
Pierre Bonnard was particularly influenced by the Japanese style; his nickname among the Nabis was "Le plus japonard". For one series of four paintings created in 1890-91, The Women in the Garden, now in the Musée d'Orsay, Bonnard adapted a Japanese format called kamemono with a narrow vertical canvas. The models are his sister Andrée and his cousin Berthe Schaedin. The four figures are presented in a curving, serpentine postures, like Japanese prints. The faces of the women look away from the artist; the bold patterns of their consumes and the foliage behind them dominate the paintings. He originally conceived the work as a Japanese screen, but he finally decided to separate it into four paintings, and to emphasize the decorative aspect, he added a painted border around the canvases.
The theme of women in a garden, stylistically adapted from Japanese prints appeared in the work of other Nabis, including Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier. Denis used the theme of women in gardens in paintings and decorative murals. Sérusier adapted the same format in his Women at the Spring (1898), stylistically depicting women descending a hill to take water from a spring.
The Nabis were influenced by the literature, music and theater of the symbolist movement, and, among some of the Nabis, there was a strong current of mysticism and esotericism. Their approach to their order was partly humorous and whimsical; the studio of Ranson at 25 Boulevard de Montparnasse was called their "temple" , Madame Ranson was termed "The light of the Temple", and the original Nabi painting by Paul Sérusier was displayed in the studio like a shrine, and called "The Talisman". Serusier whimsically painted Paul Ranson in a sort of Nabic robe, with a staff and a text before him. But they also had a more serious side. They rejected the materialism of the new industrial age, and admired the poetry of Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Edgar Allan Poe. They placed themselves in opposition to the current of naturalism expressed in the paintings of Courbet and Manet and the literature of Émile Zola.
Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier were the Nabis who most often painted religious subjects. The work of Denis was often influenced by the paintings of Fra Angelico. He often painted scenes and themes taken from the Bible, but with the figures in modern costume, in simplified landscapes and surrounded by light, a symbol of faith. In 1895, he received a commission for a series of seven large paintings called The Legend of Saint Hubert for the Paris home of Baron Cochin. They illustrated the story of Saint Hubert hunting in the forest of Aquitaine, seeing a vision of Christ, and being converted to Christianity.
Paul Sérusier painted less Christian more mystical scenes, particularly La Vision pros du torrent or The rendezvous of fairies (1897), showing a group of women in Breton costumes passing through the forest, carrying bouquets of flowers to a ceremony, and Femmes à la Source, depicting a series of women solemnly descending through a mystical forest to a spring. This illustrates the legend of the Danaides, who in mythology were condemned to fill and refill leaking jugs of water from a spring. He painted several works of women in Breton costumes conducting pagan ceremonies in the forests of Britanny.. 
The Nabis Pierre Bonnard, Felix Vallotton and Édouard Vuillard, created particularly remarkable paintings depicting the interiors of homes, where the inhabitants of the rooms were almost entirely absorbed into the intense floral decoration and furnishings. In some of the paintings, such as Vuillard's The Seamstress and La Table de toilet (1895), or People in an Interior - Music, it is difficult to even find and count the individuals in the painting. 
One of the most common subjects of the Nabis was women in an idyllic garden setting, usually picking flowers or fruit. It appeared in four panels representing the seasons of a young woman's life by Maurice Denis (1890-91), painted for the bedroom of a young girl, and the panels of women in the public parks of Paris by Édouard Vuillard (1894) painted for the residence of his patron Alexandre Nathanson; two paintings of women and children picking apples in an orchard by Pierre Bonnard (1894-96); and in a tapestry by Paul Ranson, "Spring", depicting three women picking fruit. All the images are highly stylized, often using the same serpentine forms to represent the women, the trees and the foliage. The young women in the series by Denis are shown traveling along a road, dressed in vestal white in the first painting, then in different colors as they reach maturity in the final painting. 
One of the stated objectives of the Nabis was to break down the barriers between art and ordinary life, and in particular the distinction between art and decoration. Much of the art they created was designed specifically to be decorative, for display in salons and dining rooms. They designed screens, murals, wallpaper, tapestries, dishware, lampshades, and ornament for furniture, as well as theater decor and costume design, and graphic design for advertising posters. Paul Ranson, working with Art Nouveau architect Henry Van de Velde made murals to decorate the dining room of art gallery owner Siegfried Bing. After a visit to the United States, where he saw the stained glass designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany and his firm, Bing invited the Nabis to submit their own designs for Tiffany glass. Roussel, Vuillard, Vallaton, Ranson, Denis, Bonnard, and Ibels all made designs, which Bing displayed in his gallery in Paris in April 1895, along with designs of non-Nabis, including Toulouse-Lautrec. In the end the windows were not made, but Maurice Denis continued to create window designs on symbolist themes, with bold designs and vivid colors. In 1895, Vuillard was commissioned to design a series of plates, which featured women in highly-stylized costumes.
Les Nabis artists worked in a variety of media, using oils on both canvas and cardboard, and distemper on canvas and wall decoration, and they also produced posters, prints, book illustrations, textiles and furniture. Considered to be on the cutting edge of modern art during their early period, their subject matter was representational (though often Symbolist in inspiration), but was design-oriented along the lines of the Japanese prints they so admired, and Art Nouveau. However, the artists of the Nabis circle were highly influenced by the paintings of the Impressionists, and thus while sharing the flatness, page layout, and negative space of art nouveau and other decorative modes, much of Les Nabis art has a painterly, non-realistic look, with color palettes reminiscent of Cézanne and Gauguin. Bonnard's posters and lithographs are more firmly in the Art Nouveau, or Toulouse-Lautrec manner. After the turn of the century, as modern art moved towards Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, and Abstraction, Les Nabis were viewed as conservatives and, indeed, were among the last group of artists to stick to the roots and artistic ambitions of the Impressionists, pursuing these ends almost into the middle of the 20th century. In their later years, these painters also largely abandoned their earlier interests in decorative and applied arts.
In 1897, the Nabis were not present at the well-known Salon des Independents, but instead held their own exposition at the Galerie Vollard, more avant-garde than the Salon. Their final exhibition as a group took place in 1900 at the Galerie Bernheim, with works of Bonnard, Denis, Ibels, Maillol, Roussel Serousier, Vallatton and Vuillard. After that exhibit, each of the artists went his separate way.
Looking back in 1909, Denis described the accomplishment of the Nabis. "Art is no longer a visual sensation that we gather, like a photograph, as it were, of nature. No, it is a creation of our spirit, for which nature is only the occasion."
In 1937 Vuillard described the breakup of the Nabis. "...The march of progress was so rapid. Society was ready to welcome cubism and surrealism before we had reached what we had imagined as our goal. We found ourselves in a way suspended in the air."
Twentieth-century art—and what it became as modern art—began with modernism in the late nineteenth century. Nineteenth-century movements of Post-Impressionism (Les Nabis), Art Nouveau and Symbolism led to the first twentieth-century art movements of Fauvism in France and Die Brücke ("The Bridge") in Germany. Fauvism in Paris introduced heightened non-representational colour into figurative painting. Die Brücke strove for emotional Expressionism. Another German group was Der Blaue Reiter ("The Blue Rider"), led by Kandinsky in Munich, who associated the blue rider image with a spiritual non-figurative mystical art of the future. Kandinsky, Kupka, R. Delaunay and Picabia were pioneers of abstract (or non-representational) art. Cubism, generated by Picasso, Braque, Metzinger, Gleizes and others rejected the plastic norms of the Renaissance by introducing multiple perspectives into a two-dimensional image. Futurism incorporated the depiction of movement and machine age imagery. Dadaism, with its most notable exponents, Marcel Duchamp, who rejected conventional art styles altogether by exhibiting found objects, notably a urinal, and too Francis Picabia, with his Portraits Mécaniques.
Parallel movements in Russia were Suprematism, where Kasimir Malevich also created non-representational work, notably a black canvas. The Jack of Diamonds group with Mikhail Larionov was expressionist in nature.
Dadaism preceded Surrealism, where the theories of Freudian psychology led to the depiction of the dream and the unconscious in art in work by Salvador Dalí. Kandinsky's introduction of non-representational art preceded the 1950s American Abstract Expressionist school, including Jackson Pollock, who dripped paint onto the canvas, and Mark Rothko, who created large areas of flat colour. Detachment from the world of imagery was reversed in the 1960s by the Pop Art movement, notably Andy Warhol, where brash commercial imagery became a Fine Art staple. Warhol also minimised the role of the artist, often employing assistants to make his work and using mechanical means of production, such as silkscreen printing. This marked a change from Modernism to Post-Modernism. Photorealism evolved from Pop Art and as a counter to Abstract Expressionists.
Subsequent initiatives towards the end of the century involved a paring down of the material of art through Minimalism, and a shift toward non-visual components with Conceptual art, where the idea, not necessarily the made object, was seen as the art. The last decade of the century saw a fusion of earlier ideas in work by Jeff Koons, who made large sculptures from kitsch subjects, and in the UK, the Young British Artists, where Conceptual Art, Dada and Pop Art ideas led to Damien Hirst's exhibition of a shark in formaldehyde in a vitrine.Art periods
This is a chronological list of periods in Western art history. An art period is a phase in the development of the work of an artist, groups of artists or art movement.Bande noire (art)
The Bande noire (Black Band) was a group of French painters of the 1890s who used a darker and richer palette than most of their Impressionist contemporaries, aiming for a stylistic fusion of Impressionism with the raw or melancholy realism associated with painters such as Gustave Courbet. They were also sometimes known as the Nubians to differentiate them from the group known as Les Nabis.The Bande noire got their name after the painter Charles Cottet exhibited a painting called The Burial at the Paris Salon of 1894. Besides Cottet, the artists most associated with this rather loosely defined group included Lucien Simon, Émile-René Ménard, René-Xavier Prinet, and André Dauchez. Other artists with affinities to the Bande noire include Walter Gay, Gaston La Touche, and Constantin Meunier.Félix Vallotton
Félix Edouard Vallotton (December 28, 1865 – December 29, 1925) was a Swiss and French painter and printmaker associated with the group of artists known as Les Nabis. He was an important figure in the development of the modern woodcut.Henri-Gabriel Ibels
Henri-Gabriel Ibels (30 November 1867 Paris – February 1936 Paris), was a French illustrator, printmaker, painter and author.
He studied at the Académie Julian with Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard and was a member of Les Nabis from its 1889 founding. Other members were Gauguin, Utrillo, Félix Vallotton and Émile Bernard. Ibels took part in Les Nabis’ exhibitions at Le Barc de Boutteville gallery. With Vuillard and Maurice Denis he soon caught the public eye and earned the nickname ‘le Nabis journaliste’.Ibels’ images were powerful and heavily graphic, in keeping with the movement that was a generous admixture of fine art, graphic design and advertising, as seen in the lithographs and posters for theater, cabaret, and book illustration.
Ibels drew his inspiration from life on the street, cafés, the circus and boxing ring, as did Adolphe Willette, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. His graphic style owed much to the art of Honoré Daumier, Japanese woodcuts, Paul Gauguin and the Pont-Aven School.
Ibels collaborated with Toulouse-Lautrec and became involved in avant-garde theater. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants for the first time in 1891.Homage to Cézanne
Homage to Cézanne (French: Hommage à Cézanne) is a painting in oil on canvas by the French artist Maurice Denis dating from 1900. It depicts a number of key figures from the once secret brotherhood of Les Nabis (Hebr. the Prophets). The painting is a retrospective; by 1900 the group was breaking up as its members matured.Intimism (art movement)
Intimism (French: intimisme) was an artistic movement in the late 19th-century and early 20th-century that involved the depiction of banal yet personal domestic scenes, particularly those within domestic interiors. Intimism was most notably practiced by French painters Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard after the 1899 disbandment of Les Nabis. Edgar Degas and Felix Vallotton have also been characterized as an intimists.French art critic Camille Mauclair defined Intimism as:
a revelation of the soul through the things painted, the magnetic suggestion of what lies behind them through the description of the outer appearance, the intimate meaning of the spectacles of life
While the movement is often associated with Impressionism, the Intimists diverged from the Impressionists in abandoning a focus on formal accuracy in depiction of light, color, and perspective in favor of emphasized texture, exaggerated palette, and merged figure and ground.The term "intimism" has since been extended to artists outside of the historical period who utilize similar techniques. Intimist film, for example, refers to cinema that utilizes domestic narratives or places focus on the mundane.Jan Verkade
Johannes Sixtus Gerhardus (Jan) Verkade (18 September 1868 - 19 July 1946), afterwards Willibrord Verkade O.S.B., was a Dutch Post-Impressionist and Christian Symbolist painter. A disciple of Paul Gauguin and friend of Paul Sérusier, he belonged to the circle of artists known as 'Les Nabis.' Of a Dutch anabaptist background, his artistic and spiritual journey led him to convert to Roman Catholicism, and to take Holy Orders as a Benedictine monk, taking the religious name Willibrord. He entered the Archabbey of Beuron and continued his work in a religious context, working closely with Desiderius Lenz, leader of the Beuron Art School. He worked throughout Europe and had an important influence on the continuing development of the new Benedictine Art.Ker-Xavier Roussel
Ker-Xavier Roussel (10 December 1867 – 6 June 1944) was a French painter associated with Les Nabis.Kunstmuseum Winterthur
Kunstmuseum Winterthur (English: The Winterthur Museum of Art) is an art museum in Winterthur, Switzerland run by the local Kunstverein. From its beginnings, the activities of the Kunstverein Winterthur were focused on "contemporary art" - first Impressionism, then Post-Impressionism and especially Les Nabis, through post-World War II and recently created works by Richard Hamilton, Mario Merz and Gerhard Richter.List of French artistic movements
The following is a chronological list of artistic movements or periods in France indicating artists who are sometimes associated or grouped with those movements. See also European art history, Art history and History of Painting and Art movement.List of art movements
See Art periods for a chronological list.This is a list of art movements in alphabetical order. These terms, helpful for curricula or anthologies, evolved over time to group artists who are often loosely related. Some of these movements were defined by the members themselves, while other terms emerged decades or centuries after the periods in question.Maurice Denis
Maurice Denis (French: [dəni]; 25 November 1870 – 13 November 1943) was a French painter, decorative artist and writer, who was an important figure in the transitional period between impressionism and modern art. He was associated with Les Nabis then the Symbolist movement, and then with a return to neo-classicism. His theories contributed to the foundations of cubism, fauvism, and abstract art. Following the First World War, he founded the Ateliers d'Art Sacré (Workshops of Sacred Art), decorated the interiors of churches, and worked for a revival of religious art.Nazarene movement
The epithet Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art. The name Nazarene came from a term of derision used against them for their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hair style.Neo-Fauvism
Neo-Fauvism was a poetic style of painting from the mid-1920s proposed as a challenge to Surrealism.The magazine Cahiers d'Art was launched in 1926 and its writers mounted a challenge to the Surrealist practice of automatism by seeing it not in terms of unconscious expression, but as another development of traditional artistry. They identified a group of artists as the exponents of this and termed them Neo-Fauves.Although these artists were later mostly forgotten, the movement had an effect of disillusioning the Surrealist group with the technique of graphic automatism as a revolutionary means of by-passing conventional aesthetics, ideology and commercialism.Neo-Fauvism has been seen as the last trend within painting that could be marketed as a coherent style.Pierre Bonnard
Pierre Bonnard (French: [bɔnaʁ]; 3 October 1867 – 23 January 1947) was a French painter, illustrator, and printmaker, known especially for the stylized decorative qualities of his paintings and his bold use of color. He was a founding member of the Post-Impressionist group of avant-garde painters Les Nabis, and his early work was strongly influenced by the work of Paul Gauguin, and the prints of Hokusai and other Japanese artists. He was a leading figure in the transition from impressionism to modernism. He painted landscapes, urban scenes, portraits and intimate domestic scenes, where the backgrounds, colors and painting style usually took precedence over the subject.Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism (also spelled Postimpressionism) is a predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905, from the last Impressionist exhibition to the birth of Fauvism. Post-Impressionism emerged as a reaction against Impressionists' concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour. Due to its broad emphasis on abstract qualities or symbolic content, Post-Impressionism encompasses Les Nabis Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Cloisonnism, Pont-Aven School, and Synthetism, along with some later Impressionists' work. The movement was led by Paul Cézanne (known as father of Post-impressionism), Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat.The term Post-Impressionism was first used by art critic Roger Fry in 1906. Critic Frank Rutter in a review of the Salon d'Automne published in Art News, 15 October 1910, described Othon Friesz as a "post-impressionist leader"; there was also an advert for the show The Post-Impressionists of France. Three weeks later, Roger Fry used the term again when he organized the 1910 exhibition, Manet and the Post-Impressionists, defining it as the development of French art since Manet.
Post-Impressionists extended Impressionism while rejecting its limitations: they continued using vivid colours, often thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter, but were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, distort form for expressive effect, and use unnatural or arbitrary colour.Superstroke
Superstroke is a term used for a contemporary art movement with its origins in South Africa. Superstroke is one of the influential art movements regarding African modernism and abstraction. The word "Superstroke" implies the super expressive brush stroke. The Superstroke art movement was initially founded as a reaction to the impact that the Superflat art movement, founded by Takashi Murakami had on modern contemporary art.Édouard Vuillard
Jean-Édouard Vuillard (French: [vɥijaʁ]; 11 November 1868 – 21 June 1940) was a French painter, decorative artist and printmaker. From 1891 through 1900, he was a prominent member of the Nabis, making paintings which assembled areas of pure color, and interior scenes, influenced by Japanese prints, where the subjects were blended into colors and patterns. He also was a decorative artist, painting theater sets, panels for interior decoration, and designing plates and stained glass. After 1900, when the Nabis broke up, he adopted a more realistic style, painting landscapes and interiors with lavish detail and vivid colors. In the 1920s and 1930s he painted portraits of prominent figures in French industry and the arts in their familiar settings.