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Art Movement Report:

Les Nabis
Key information
A Parisian group of Post-Impressionist artists
and illustrators who became very influential
within the field of graphic art. They dated from
1888-1900. They were a group of 15 artists.
Emphasis on design was shared by the parallel
Art Nouveau movement.

Their work is characterized by flat patches of

colour, bold contours and simplified drawing.
Paul Serusier http://www.tate.org.uk/art/a
Their inspiration for their bold simplified style Roof Tops in Paris rtworks/serusier-roof-tops-
was from Paul Gauguin. Also their unconventional in-paris-t00231

outlook ended up making them experiment on

different supports, such as cardboard and velvet.

The work with the Nabis all differed in subject matter, they had input in many different art movements
such as Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Synthetism and many more. Some of them believed
that a painting was a harmonious grouping of lines and colours. Their subject sometimes related to
ordinary, everyday life but in fact related to mysterious and mystical. "Sounds, colors, and words have a
miraculously expressive power beyond all representation and even beyond the literal meaning of the words."
Is what they would recite before their meetings. The core of Les Nabis was Pierre Bonnard, Maurice
Denis, Ker Xavier Roussel, Flix Vallotton, and douard Vuillard.

Ambitious decorative paintings enjoyed resurgence in Europe from the late 1880s through the
early twentieth century. In Paris, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis and douard Vuillard were
among the most influential artists to embrace decoration as paintings primary function. Their
works celebrate pattern and ornament, challenge the boundaries that divide fine arts from crafts,
and in many cases, complement the interiors for which they were commissioned.

Key features
A group of Post-Impressionist artists and Illustrators.
Parallel to the Art Nouveau movement.
Bold simplified style inspired by Paul Gauguin.
Among the most influential artists to embrace decoration as paintings primary function.
They would recite a mantra before meetings. Which is what they followed.
Their work challenged the boundaries that divide fine arts from crafts.
The core of Les Nabis was Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Ker Xavier Roussel, Flix Vallotton, and
douard Vuillard.
2 Key Artists
Pierre Bonnard
Key information

Pierre Bonnard was a member of the Symbolist group of painters known as Les Nabis, and so
subscribed to the Nabi doctrine of abandoning three-dimensional modelling in favour of flat colour
areas. However, although Bonnard was a member of this group, he was not interested in obscure
Symbolist subject matter and was not a mystic. Instead, he was satisfied - even fascinated and
delighted by - the scenes of simple daily life around him. Because of this, he has been called an


Bonnard has been described as "the most thoroughly idiosyncratic of all the great twentieth-
century painters", and the unusual vantage points of his compositions rely less on traditional
modes of pictorial structure than voluptuous colour, poetic allusions and visual wit. Identified as
a late practitioner of Impressionism in the early 20th century, Bonnard has since been
recognized for his unique use of colour and his complex imagery.


Key features
Abandoned three-dimensional modelling in favor of flat colour areas for Nabi.
Was not interested in Symbolist subject matter, instead fascinated by the daily life around him.
Described as the most thoroughly idiosyncratic of all the great twentieth-century painters.
Recognized for his unique use of colour and his complex imagery.
Identified as a late practitioner of Impressionism in the early 20th century,

Pierre Bonnard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwork

Coffee s/bonnard-coffee-n05414
Pierre Bonnard http://www.tate.or 1915
Nude in the Bath g.uk/art/artworks/b
1925 onnard-nude-in-
Nude in the Bath
Bonnard creates a sense of intimacy, as well as an
atmosphere of surreptitious looking by cropping the
figures in his artwork and arranging compositions
with the main incidents located at the edges of the
canvas. The person lying in the bath is used among
many of Bonnards artwork. She is his companion;
she had a habit of treating her throat infection, which
was by taking frequent baths, which is recurring
throughout Bonnards artwork.

The medium used within this artwork is oil paint.

This advantage of oil paint, rather than other
mediums is that it is slow-drying, so that means that
an artist can develop a painting gradually, make
changes or corrections if needed.

The contrast between the yellow, red and green

floral and geometric design on the rug delivers
attention to more of the vibrant colours in the
foreground. Flatness is emphasised in this by
Bonnard, which is depicted form the elevated
viewpoint. This was combined with a perspectival
view of the background, which reinforces the sense
of the rooms depth. The bathtub also has an eerie
effect about it as it has evokes a tomb, within it a
passive female body.

Pierre Bonnard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/b

Nude in the Bath onnard-nude-in-the-bath-t12611


The dining table used in this artwork was one of Bonnards favourite subject matters. Its associations
with domestic routine and conviviality linked to his intimate vision of art.

Once again Bonnards wife, Marthe is used

in his artwork. In this one she is sipping
coffee, while her dog is next to her.

The table stretches, which is inviting for

the viewer, the painting gives the effect of
somebody glancing and about to sit down
opposite Marthe, the way that the painting
is composed makes it seem that the
artwork is the viewers point of view,
looking at Marthe. Bonnards composition
was carefully planned and developed as he
had preparatory sketches before hand.

The colour palette is almost restricted

entirely to red, yellow, blue, white and Pierre Bonnard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/bon
brown. The black is used as the platters Coffee nard-coffee-n05414
contrast, which contrasts strikingly with 1915

the tablecloth. This creates a solid form,

which draws focus towards it.

There is evidence of alterations in the work, which is why Bonnard used oil paint, as it made it easier for
him. The subject matter in this artwork is Bonnards wife; Bonnards domestic life was a massive focus
for his work. His domestic settings allowed Bonnard to record the atmosphere, incidents and
relationships that he caught with his eye, which Bonnard used and inspiration and implemented into his

douard Vuillard
Key information

douard Vuillard was a member of the Symbolist group known as Les Nabis. However, he was less
drawn to the mystical aspects of the group and more drawn to fashionable private venues where
philosophical discussions about poetry, music, theatre, and the occult occurred. Because of his
preference for the painting of interior and domestic scenes, he is often referred to as an "intimist,"
along with his friend Pierre Bonnard.

In addition to painting, Vuillard, like most of the other Nabis, was involved in book illustration, poster
design, and designs for the theatre. In 1893 Vuillard helped found Aurlien Lugn-Pos Thtre de
lOeuvre, which produced Symbolist plays. Vuillard designed stage sets and illustrated programs. He
also executed two series of masterful lithographs that reveal his great debt to Japanese woodcuts.

Key features
Less drawn to the mystical aspects of Nabis, and drawn towards the fashionable private venues.
Referred to as an intimist. Particularly known for intimate interior scenes.
Involved in book illustration, poster design and designs for the theatre.
In 1893 Vuillard helped found Aurlien Lugn-Pos Thtre de lOeuvre.
Executed two series of masterful lithographs that reveal his great debt to Japanese woodcuts.

douard Vuillard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwor

douard Vuillard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwor The Laden Table ks/vuillard-the-laden-table-n05145
Girl in an Interior ks/vuillard-girl-in-an-interior- 1908
1910 n04436
Girl in an Interior
Vuillard often used friends as models,
although he wasnt a portraitist in a traditional

The medium used in this artwork was oil paint

on a board. The same as Bonnard, as this
medium helps to make changes or correction
due to its slow-drying ability.

The subject matter is clearly the woman in

black, she was one of Vuillards friends, known
as Miche. This artwork links to Vuillards
interest point, as he was not drawn towards
the mystical aspects of art, instead preferred
the fashionable private venues, such as houses
where the majority of his artworks are based.

This is an example of many of Vuillards

intimate artworks; this artwork is personal to
him, the meaning of this artwork in unknown
which supports the fact that it is intimate as
Vuillard has kept it very private.

Vuillard has made the subject matter clearly

visible with the use of black, contrasting off douard Vuillard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/vuill
the red couch. This helps guide the viewers eyes Girl in an Interior ard-girl-in-an-interior-n04436

towards the focal point, but it also helps the 1910

subject matter to dominate over the other

elements in the canvas.

The Laden Table
This artwork is about the Paris house in which Vuillard lived with his mother. In this artwork you can see
Vuillards niece standing at the table doing her lessons, her brother at the window, a silhouette of
Vuillards mother on the right and a painting of Vuillard hung up on the wall at the back.

Vuillard always said that he does not

make portraits; he just paints people
in their homes.

The medium used in this artwork

were pastels, I think the reason
Vuillard used pastels is because the
colours are easier to blend into each
other, creating a smooth texture
throughout the whole artwork. Also
this helps to not have a massive
contrast, as then it may dominate in
the canvas. The smoothness
throughout helps it to all looks

The fact that Vuillard uses pastels,

which creates a smudgy effect of it, it
may be his way of hiding his families
identity, as their face are not clearly
visible. douard Vuillard http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwor
The Laden Table ks/vuillard-the-laden-table-n05145

I feel the subject matter in this artwork is Vuillards niece, this is because there is not much contrast
within this artwork, the only thing that clearly dominates is the white apron that the niece is wearing,
this draws concentration towards her, meaning she if often the first element on the canvas anyone will
see. Also to support this she is also the biggest element on the canvas compared to her brother, the
paining and the silhouette.


Key Links
Les Nabis is a group of Post-Impressionist artists, the majority of the members have very similar styles to
the way they compose their artworks, as well as the mediums they use. In both artists work, the way they
have positioned the viewer, it feels as if you are looking through someone else point of view.

As well as Les Nabis being Post-Impressionist artists, the group itself was known as a Symbolist group. So
youd expect all of the artists to of contributed towards Symbolism Art. In fact Pierre Bonnard and
douard Vuillard are a part of the few in Les Nabis who werent amazed or interested is having
Symbolism or Symbolic topics as their subject matters.

For Pierre Bonnard, his interest was in the real-life around him, so he was more of a realist. Then for
douard Vuillard, his interest fashionable venues.

Although both of the artists did not wish to

follow with the symbolist and mystical art, it
is very clear that Vuillard and Bonnard have
both been influenced in their work by the
Symbolism movement. Probably from the fact
that most members of Les Nabis follow the
Symbolism route.

The techniques that are used are so similar,

from the fact that Gustave Moreaus self
portrait like a bit out of focus, this style has
been used in Vuillards The Laden Table. The
blending technique is also extremely similar.
The subject matter is often clearly shown
through outlines around them. But the
backgrounds have similar blending

Gustave Moreau https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gust

Self-portrait ave_Moreau