The Nabis (Art of Century Collection)
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realized that merely copying the Old Masters would be no better than the thoughtless transfer of the Impressionists’ brilliant colours onto walls. It was then that many artists’ eyes turned towards Puvis de Chavannes. The seventeen-year-old Denis wrote in his diary: “Yesterday I visited the exhibition of Puvis de Chavannes’ works. The calm, decorative aspect of his pictures is very beautiful: the colour of the walls is delightful, the harmonies of pale-yellow tones are superb. The composition is
art into reality and reality into art. Events in real life … were never seen as simply belonging to life: they at once became part of the inner world and part of creative work. And the other way round: something written by any of them became part of life for everyone. So, reality and literature were created by the collective efforts of the forces — at times hostile to each other, but united even in hostility — of all those who happened to find themselves part of this extraordinary life …
Denis’s lengthy tirades, although he remained rather taciturn himself. He was sociable in the best sense of the word. One of his humorous reminiscent drawings (1910) shows the Place Clichy, the centre of the quarter where young artists, 65. Pierre Bonnard, Mediterranean. Triptych, 1911. Oil on canvas (relined), 407 x 152 cm; 407 x 152 cm; 407 x 152 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. 89 AC Nabi FRE 4C.qxp 90 10/24/2008 4:29 PM Page 90 AC Nabi FRE 4C.qxp 10/24/2008 4:33 PM
already beginning to melt enliven the scene that does not catch the eye at all. Has this woman come out to call in a child still playing in the gathering twilight? Perhaps. She is not dressed to go far in such weather. But all these thoughts are unlikely to enter the viewer’s mind. The painting is too generalized to enable us to read something in the woman’s face. The main thing is, however, that the artist does not assert that the scene he presents has some kind of narrative to it. It is just an
of contact with the Fauves. That explains why their works are now and again shown at the same exhibitions. The exhibition of the Nabis and Fauves held in the Zurich Kunsthaus in 19834 may serve as an example. It is noteworthy that paintings by Denis and Sérusier were not included in this exhibition. The Nabis were not simply a group of artists using similar painterly devices and the same strategy in the struggle to exhibit their works, as was the case with the NeoImpressionists or the Fauves.