Les Nabis

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The Nabis were a group of Post-Impressionist avant-garde Paris' artists who set the pace for fine arts and graphic arts in France in the 1890's. Initially it started as a group of friends, interested in contemporary art and in theater and literature. Most of them studied at the private art school of Rodolphe Julian (Académie Julian) in Paris in the late 1880's where they met each other: Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Paul Sérusier.


  • Paul Sérusier's story was exciting. From his summer vacation in Brittany [Summer 1888], where he had briefly encountered Paul Gauguin, he had brought back a small landscape painted under Gauguin's direction. Gauguin had asked him, (as Sérusier told his friends later in Paris): 'How do you see these trees? They are yellow. Well then, put down yellow. And that shadow is rather blue? So render it with pure-ultramarine. Those red leaves? Use vermilion.'
  • Paul Sérusier explained to his friends [Oct. 1888 - to Bonnard, Denis, Vuillard] that, according to Paul Gauguin: the impression of nature must be wedded to the aesthetic sentiment which chooses, arranges, simplifies and synthesizes. The painter ought not to rest until he has given birth to the child of his imagination.. ..begotten in a union of his mind with reality. Gauguin insisted on a logical construction of composition, on a harmonious apportionment of light and dark colors, the simplification of forms and proportions, so as to endow the outline's of forms with a powerful and eloquent expression.. ..He also insisted upon luminous and pure colors.
    • Quote by Paul Sérusier / John Rewald; from Pierre Bonnard, John Rewald; MoMA - distribution, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1918, p. 13
    • Gauguin later explained to Maurice Denis that: that time, I wanted to try everything, to 'liberate', as it were, the young generation [John Rewald, in Pierre Bonnard, p. 13 - note 3]
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  • The dictionary definition of Les Nabis on Wiktionary