The Nabis by Albert Kostenevich

By Albert Kostenevich

Exploring intimately the interesting crew of artists referred to as the Nabis, this identify specializes in the origins of the collective, in addition to analyzing one of the most fashionable artists.

The staff --
Major artists. Félix Vallotton --
Ker Xavier Roussel --
Pierre Bonnard --
Édouard Vuillard --
Maurice Denis.

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The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow. qxp 10/24/2008 3:51 PM Page 49 Redon, with his air of mystery and subtle colour nuances, or to Puvis de Chavannes, with his profound understanding of the essence of monumental painting. The works of the young Nabis from time to time betrayed a hint of the influence of these two artists. With Cézanne, whom they discovered very early, when his works could be found only in a small shop kept by Le Père Tanguy, the question becomes more difficult. Did he influence them?

Qxp 10/24/2008 3:44 PM Page 39 27. Paul Ranson, The Tiger, 1893. Colour lithograph. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. 28. Maurice Denis, Bacchanalia, 1920. 5 cm. Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo. qxp 10/24/2008 3:50 PM Page 41 some traces of Symbolism may be found in the works of the last three painters, but they are so rare and so faint that these artists cannot possibly be regarded as Symbolists. However, Bonnard, Vuillard and Roussel always paid considerable attention to the painterly aspects of their work and so they had certain points of contact with the Fauves.

This name, a password for the group and a mystery for outsiders, was suggested by one of their friends, Auguste Cazalis, then a student at the School of Oriental Languages. The meetings of the Nabis were characterized by lively conversations on a wide range of subjects, more often than not connected with painting or literature. It is true that Sérusier and, to a lesser extent, Denis were inclined to give themselves airs, but the rest preferred a merry atmosphere and enjoyed a good joke. This was quite natural: they were all young.

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