Maurice Denis (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. Denis was associated with Les Nabis, then the French Symbolist movement with a return to neo-classicism.
Quotes of Maurice Denis
- chronologically arranged, after date of Maurice Denis' quotes
1890 - 1920
- 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.
- 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.
- Quote 1890, from Denis' essay published in the review 'Art et Critique'; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- In August 1890, Denis consolidated his new ideas and presented them in a famous essay published in the review 'Art et Critique'. In his essay, he termed the new movement 'neo-traditionaism', in opposition to the 'progressism' of the Neo-impressionists, led by Seurat
- Art remains a sure refuge, the hope of a reason in life from now on, and the consoling thought that little beauty manifests itself in our lives, and that we are continuing the work of Creation.. .Therefore the work of art has merit, inscribed in the marvelous beauty of flowers, of light, in the proportion of trees and shape of waves, and the perfection of faces; to inscribe our poor and lamentable life of suffering, of hope and of thought.
- Quote, 24 March 1895, from Denis' Journal; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- Think of late paintings where Christ is the central figure.. .Remember the large mosaics of Rome. Reconcile the employment of large-scale decorative means and the direct emotions of nature.
- Quote, March 1895, from Denis' Journal; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- ..the classical aesthetic offers us at the same time a method of thinking and a method of wanting to be, a moral and at the same time a psychology.. .The classical tradition as a whole, by the logic of the effort and the greatness of results, is in some way parallel with the religious tradition of humanity.
- Quote from Denis's essay 'Les Arts a Rome', 1898; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- Denis made Jan. 1895 his first visit to Rome, where the works of Raphael and Michaelangelo in the Vatican made a strong impression upon him.
- The common error of us all [in late Impressionism] was to search above all for the light. It would have been better first to search for the Kingdom of God and his justice, that is to say for the expression of our spirit in beauty, and the rest would have arrived naturally.
- Art is the sanctification of the nature, of that nature found in everyone who is content to live.
- 2 Quotes from Denis' 1906 essay 'The Sun'; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- To synthesize is not necessarily to simplify in the sense of suppressing certain parts of the object: it is to simplify in the sense of rendering intelligible. It is, in short, to put in hierarchic order: to set each picture to a single rhythm, to a dominant; it is sacrifice, to subordinate — to generalize.
- Quote, 1907 from Denis' text 'Synthetism'; as cited in Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics, Herschel Browning Chipp, Peter Selz - 1968, p. 105
- 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.
- Quote of Denis, 1909: from Bouillon 2006, pp. 17-18; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- What amazement, followed by what a revelation! In place of windows opening on nature, like the impressionists, these were surfaces which were solidly decorative, powerfully colorful, bordered with brutal strokes, partitioned.
1921 and later
- The sublime is to approach the subject or wall with an attitude that is grand, noble, and in no way petty..
- Quote, 1922; from Bouillon 2006, p. 89; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- Don't lose sight of the essential objectives of painting, which are expression, emotion, delectation; to understand the means, to paint decoratively, to exalt form and color.
- Quote from Denis' Journal, 1930; as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
Nouvelles théories sur l'art moderne..., 1922
- Quotes from: Nouvelles théories sur l'art moderne, sur l'art sacré, 1922 (New Theories of Modern and Sacred Art)
- ..Every work of art is a transposition,a caricature,the passionate equivalent of a sensation received.
- I believe that art should sanctify nature.
- Painting is first of all the art of imitation, and not the servant of some imaginary 'purity'
- as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- Art is no longer a purely visual experience.. ..it is a work of our intellect triggered by nature.. ..the imagination again become the queen of our strengths and we liberate our sensitivity.
- Decorative and edifying. That is what I want art to be before anything else.
- as cited on Wikipedia: Maurice Denis - reference 
- Pierre Bonnard, the Graphic Art, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Denis (see index)
- Diane Goullard – Maurice Denis (1870-1943). Leçons de l'Italie, d'après son journal (Français) | Lessons from Italy, based on his Journal (English)