Les Nabis


Les Nabis were a Parisian group of Post-Impressionist artists and illustrators who became very influential in the field of graphic art.

Their emphasis on design was shared by the parallel Art Nouveau movement. Both groups also had close ties to the Symbolism..
Maillol Aristide 1861-1944  French Sculptor
Ranson Paul 1864-1909  French Painter
Vallotton Felix   1865-1925  French Painter
Bonnard Pierre 1867-1947  French Painter
Roussel Ker Xavier  1867-1944  French Painter
Lacombe Georges 1868-1916  French Sculptor
Vuillard Edouard 1868-1940 French Painter
Denis Maurice  1870-1943 French Painter



(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Group of artists who, through their widely diverse activities, were a majorinfluence on the art produced in France during the late 19th century. Preaching that a work of art is the end product and visual expression of an artist's synthesis of nature into personal aesthetic metaphors and symbols, they paved the way for the early 20th-century development of abstract and nonrepresentational art.

The Nabis were greatly influenced by Japanese woodcuts, French Symbolist painting, and English Pre-Raphaelite art. Their primary inspiration, however, stemmed from the so-called Pont-Aven school which centred upon the painter
Gauguin Paul. Under Gauguin's direct guidance, Serusier Paul, the group's founder, painted the first Nabi work, “Landscape at the Bois d'Amour at Pont-Aven” (also called the “Talisman,” 1888).

Armed with his painting and the authority of Gauguin's teachings, Serusier returned to Paris from Pont-Aven and converted many of his artist friends, who received his aesthetic doctrines as a mystical revelation. Assuming the name Nabis (from Hebrew navi, “prophet,” or “seer”), the original members of the group were the French artists
Denis Maurice (with Serusier the group's main theoretician), Bonnard Pierre, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Roussel Ker Xavier, Ranson Paul, Vuillard Edouard, and Rene Piot. Later, a Dutch painter, Jan Verkade, and the Swiss-born Vallotton Felix  joined the group, as did two French sculptors, Lacombe Georges  and Maillol Aristide.

In 1891 the Nabis held their first exhibition, attempting in their works to illustrate Denis's dictum: “A picture, before being a war horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered by colours in a certain order.” They soon began to apply this idea to such varied works as posters, stained glass, theatre sets, and book illustrations. But dissensions and desertions quickly occurred within the group, which finally disbanded in 1899. Only Vuillard and Bonnard, who came to call themselves Intimists, and Maillol continued to produce major works of art.


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