8 Mart 2012 Perşembe

Les Nabis

 "Remember a painting before it is... a nude or some anectode or other, is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order"
Maurice Denis 1890

Sérusier - On the holy-wood /  1891
The secret brotherhood of Nabis was founded in 1888 by French artists and theoriticians Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier as a rejection to acedemicism. Pierre Bonnard, Paul Ranson and Henri-Gabriel Ibels were the other original members. Other then them there were passionate young artists from Académie Julian in Paris since they were not inspirated with the phptgraphic naturalism there. A spiritual element existed in the ideas and practices of the Les Nabis wave. Moreover; the formation of a secret brotherhood connected them to previous groups of resistant/rebellious artists, such as the "Nazarenes" in Germany and Pre-Raphaelites in England.

Paul Gauguin was the most important mentor of the Nabis, and Séusier's account of a morning's painting under Gauguin in the Bois d'Amour woods in the summer of 1888i vividly describes the "Synthetist" effect on the improvement of Nabi practices. Following Gauguin's leads and advices Séusier finished the painting and showed it to the group. It seemed so original and daring that they believed it had mystical powers.

Maurice Denis - Homage to Cézanne / 1900
Les Nabis began to organise meetings to discuss three main topics: "the scientific and mystical bases of art", "the social implications", "the desirability of a synthesis of the arts" Not only Gauguin but also Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne samples were drawed to understand the previous generations leading artists better.

The first Nabi group exhibition, organized by Denis, was held in 1891 at the chateau of St Germain-en-Laye. The majority of Nabis were included in the exhibition held at Le Barc de Boutteville,Paris. Since the title of the exhibition was "Peintres Impressionistes et Symbolistes" the Nabis were called Symbolists and they were welcomed among Symbolist poets. Although Denis' statement in the top of the page, about colours being in order, was taken up by abstract artists, the innovation of Nabis were primarily in style and theorization. Their choices of subject remained traditional /portraiture, scenes of Paris life, religious scenes.

As well as paintings the group exhibited prints, poster designs, theatre programme designs. Les Nabis exhibited together until 1899, after that they seperated. A devoted Catholic, Denis turned his attention to religious subjects and he founded the Studio of Sacred Art. Sérusier also turned to religious symbolism. Each and other member continued to define their own styles and concentrated on domestic interiors, which eventually led them to be called "Intimistes"


Hesiod and the Muse 1891; Oil on canvas,
 59 x 34.5 cm
  , Gustave Moreau
Emile Bernard 

The symbolists were the first artists to be interested in the inner world with the emotions and thoughts instead of the external one. Private symbols are used to reach those inner feelings and to activate them. Dreams and visions mystical experiences, the erotic and the perverse were some of the subjects to create a physiological impact. Women are usually portrayed as either virginal/angelic or sexual/threatening, the symbols to represent death, disease and sin are frequent.

In 1886 in France jean moreas published the first announcement of symbolism in art in addition to poetry.

Young Woman in Kimono Reading, 1887, Emile Bernard

Maurice Denis

Symbolism embraced a wide variety of artists. Emile Bernard, Maurice Denis , Paul serusier , georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, gustave Moreau...gustave Kahn described symbolism as objectifying the subjective instead of subjectifying the objective, in 1886. Pierre puvis de chavannes' idealist, abstracted attitude was welcomed for for it's neutral aesthetic sense.

Mary Visits Elizabeth. 1894 The Hermitage, St.Petersburg  ,
Maurice Denis

Adam and Eve , Denis
Moreau got the possibility to spread his work and gain popularity later. He introduced his sense with the help of the writer, j.k huysmans putting his paintings in his book. The symbolistic movement was born and labeled in France, yet it paced all over the world becoming international. James ensor for example from Belgium was admired with his work, fantasy, carnival masks, monstrous figures, skeletons.. Norwegian Edward munch on the other hand was another non-French symbolist mirrored generally subjects like, emotional crisis, tragedies, sexuality, disease and death. American Albert Pinkham Ryder took madness, death and alienation being influenced by sheakespeare, Poe, the bible and mythology.
Symbolism lead the way for new waves and combination of different movements. It was in interaction with art nouveau , surrealism, decadent art.

Paul Serusier
Daugters , Paul Serusier

Georges Seurat (1859 – 1891). Bathers at Asnières, 1884,
The Talisman by Paul Sérusier
(see Impressionism, also)

Georges Seurat

Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau Salomé 1876
La mort du fossoyeur ("The death of the gravedigger")
byCarlos Schwabe is a visual compendium of symbolist motifs.Death and angels, pristine snow,
and the dramatic poses of the characters all express symbolist longings
for transfiguration "anywhere, out of the world."