Paul Sérusier

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photo of Paul Sérusier, c. 1890

Paul Sérusier (9 November 18647 October 1927) was a French painter who was a pioneer of abstract art; he was an inspirational power for the avant-garde Nabis art-movement, Synthetism and Cloisonnism.[1]

Quotes of Paul Sérusier[edit]

chronologically arranged, after the dates of Sérusier's quotes
Paul Sérusier, 1888: 'Landscape and trees in Pont-Aven', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Collection J.F. Denis, Alonçon
Paul Sérusier, 1889: 'The flowered barrier, Le Pouldu in Pont-Aven', oil on cardboard; current location: Musée d'Orsay - quote of Paul Sérusier, 1888: 'Gauguin insisted on a logical construction of composition, on a harmonious apportionment of light and dark colors, the simplification of forms and proportions'
Paul Sérusier, 1889: 'Laundresses at the Laïta River' (Pont-Aven), ), oil on canvas; current location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Paul Sérusier, after 1908: 'Selfportrait with a shiny beard', oil-painting; location since 2017: the city Châteauneuf-du-Faou
  • [..according to 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.
    • Paul Sérusier's quote in 1888, about Paul Gauguin; in Pierre Bonnard, John Rewald; MoMA - distribution, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1918, p. 13
    • Sérusier encountered in his summer vacation in Pont-Aven in Brittany [Summer 1888], briefly Paul Gauguin. He also made there a small landscape, painted under Gauguin's direction. Back in Paris, October 1888, Sérusier explained his Nabis friends (Denis, Pierre Bonnard and Vuillard) the artistic lessons Paul Gauguin taught him - as reported by John Rewald in his book Pierre Bonnard, p. 13-14
  • What part should nature play in a work of art? Where should the line be drawn? And from the standpoint of practical procedure - should one work directly from nature or merely study and remember it? Too much freedom frightens me, poor imitator that I am, and yet my head is filled with so many images evoked by what I see around me at all times that nature seems insignificant and banal.
    • Quote from a letter to Maurice Dennis, 1889; as quoted by John Rewald in Pierre Bonnard; MoMA - distribution, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1918, p. 14 - note 7

from: 'A letter to Maurice Denis'[edit]

Quotes from: a letter (Pont-Aven, Brittanny), to Maurice Denis, June/July 1889; in ABC de la peinture, ;Paris, Floury, 1950, p. 42-45; as quoted in Symbolist Art Theories: A Critical Anthology, ed. Henri Dorra; University of California Press, 1994, p. 237-38
  • Brother Nabi - to a philosophical letter [he received from Denis ] a philosophical answer.. .[but] first of all, forgive the incoherence of my last letter. I am feeling remorsed about what I told you about Gauguin. There is no humbug about him, not, at any rate, with respect to those he knows are capable of understanding him. I have lived with him for the past fifteen days in the closest association [in Pont-Aven]. We share a room. I have told him what I dislike about his work; what I said can be regarded as a sally against the ingrained habits of contemporary painting. But let's go back to our philosophy.. ..(a:) Immutable principles exist in art. There is a science, namely aesthetics, that teaches them. Today this science is dead. It was alive in the days of the beatific primitives...
    • p. 237
  • These principles [in art], forgotten over time, were rediscovered by a few geniuses such as Rembrandt, Vélazquez, Délacroix, Corot and Manet. These principles can be deduced from innate principles within us, ideas of harmony, common to all unspoiled men.. ..these are the laws of harmony and color.
    • p. 237
  • I respect personality; it is an abstract entitity. A certain number of lines and colors constituting a harmony, can be arranged infinite ways. The literary side in painting is a second element of personality; it may exist – it must exist – but only as a pretext; if it dominates, one fall into the realm of illustration. You see that I do not wish to legislate personality.
    • p. 237
  • The science [of painting], although it is not absolutely necessary, never hurts. It obviates much experimentation by trial and error, but one must, above all, not confuse it with skill. The first can be taught; the second [= skill] must not be, and must even be combatted.. .What will necessarily happen to manual skill is.. if one neglects it, it becomes all the more clumsy and personal.

p. 237-238

Quotes about Paul Sérusier[edit]

chronologically arranged, after the dates of quotes about Paul Sérusier
  • Paul Sérusier's story was exciting. From his summer vacation in Pont-Aven, 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 Nabis friends October 1888 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.'
    • Quote by John Rewald; from Pierre Bonnard, MoMA - distribution, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1918, p. 13

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