Considered to be cutting edge modern art during the Nabis’s early period, their subject matter was representational
Nabi means prophet in Hebrew and in Arabic. Parisian artists who were influenced by Gauguin, the Japanism and the Pont-Aven’s School. They were influential in the developments in design and the graphic arts. Les Nabis originated as a rebellious group of young student artists who banded together at the Académie Julian. Paul Sérusier galvanised Les Nabis, and provided the name and disseminated the example of Paul Gauguin among them. Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis became the best known of the group; at the time, however, they were somewhat peripheral to the core group.
The term was coined by the poet Henri Cazalis who drew a parallel between the way these painters aimed to revitalise painting (as prophets of modern art) and the way the ancient prophets had rejuvenated Israel. Possibly the nickname arose because “most of them wore beards, some were Jews and all were desperately earnest”. Les Nabis regarded themselves as initiates, and used a private vocabulary.
Les Nabis artists worked in a variety of media, using oils on both canvas and cardboard, distemper on canvas and wall decoration, and also produced posters, prints, book illustration, textiles and furniture.
Considered to be on the cutting edge of modern art during their early period, their subject matter was representational ( often symbolist in inspiration), but was design oriented along the lines of the Japanese prints they so admired, and art nouveau. Much of Nabis art has a painterly, non-realistic look, with colour palettes often reminding one of Cézanne and Gauguin.
Category: Art & Design