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Maurice Denis
Biography and information
Maurice Denis (FR. Maurice Denis; November 25, 1870, Granville — November 13, 1943, Paris) — French painter, post impressionist and symbolist, member of the artistic group "Nabi"one of its main theorists.

Features of the artist Maurice Denis: one of the most famous and recognized artists of his time, Maurice Denis considered the peak of artistic professionalism, the painting of walls and ceilings. He painted frescoes on the walls of temples and chapels, palaces, theatres and public buildings. For the most part it’s multi-figure allegorical and mystical scenes in which the classical tradition is connected with new artistic principles and techniques: the flat spots of saturated colors, lack of perspective, simplified forms.
The picturesque and graphic works Denis is a very personal and poignant. Observation of the real objects are converted to him in rhythmic songs, built on speculative laws. Maurice Denis was constantly looking for a balance between personal experience, the exact study of nature and the assumed decorativeness.

Famous paintings of Maurice Denis: "Bacchus and Ariadne", "Muse", "Catholic sacraments", "Madame Ranson with a cat", "Portrait of Martha Denis, the artist’s wife".

By the end of the XIX century, when a Paris independent artists organize exhibitions and write naked prostitutes, the purple shadow races, dancers, and apples, fifteen-year-old student of the famed lycée Maurice Denis wrote in a diary: "I have become a Christian artist, who will glorify the wonders of Christianity". Pass 35 years, the exhibition halls filled with paintings of the Cubists, fauves, expressionists — and it will open in Paris "the Studio of spiritual art", which will teach young artists to organize a religious compositions according to the laws of music, and the colours to use avant-garde artistic techniques, to reconcile modern civilization with the Church and with God.

Painting and philosophy
Maurice Denis, the son of a railway worker and a seamstress since childhood, was seriously interested in only two things: art and religion. At the age of 13, he began keeping a diary and continued to do personal records to the end of life: about art, about love, about attitude to life and people. But then, in the beginning, teenager Denis admire the sacraments, smells and candlelight. All that is beautiful and impressive in a Catholic ceremony.

When young Maurice will be a student of the oldest and prestigious French lycée Condorcet, his main passion is philosophy. But fast enough under the impression from the Louvre collection, from communicating with friendsEdouard Vuillard andKer-Xavier Roussel (this friendship would also be the most important thing in life) he decides to quit school and comes first time to the Academy of fine arts. Here is desperately boring and lifeless — and Denis, despite a grueling training schedule, comes back to a private Academy Julian. Learn at the same time in both. Already defined with the future occupation and selecting paintings, persistent and purposeful, it is parallel to pass the exam and still become a bachelor of philosophy.

In love with the prophet
In the first years of the 1890s, a student of the académie Julian, Maurice Denis to happen the two most important rotary meetings with contemporary art and with his future wife Martha.

The first meeting will provide a classmate and friend, Paul Ceruse. He went to Pont-Aven and received fromPaul Gauguin an important lesson: the artist must not worry about the blind copy, painting is an attempt to convey the inner state of the artist observing a landscape, a Nude woman, a child or a pitcher. And as it can only Express the color, rhythm and form. Ceruse brought from Pont-Aven sketch, which becomes the mascot for the company of the young students of the académie Julian. They are grouped together to call her "Nabi" (from the Hebrew "prophet"), dressed in ritual clothes, read ancient sacred texts and bold symbolist poetry, write small paintings of bold flat color spots.

The second meeting was held without aides and guidesMartha Merje young nebido send the God in whom he so sincerely believes. Maurice Denis is in love and happy, focused and inspired. March is a brilliant pianist, Muse, model, a constant object of admiration and recognition. It takes thought, it accelerates the heartbeat to barely tolerated speed, it inspires lyric lithographic albums, multi-figure canvases, populated by only her figure in different forms and moodson a mystical reinterpretation of the biblical legends.

Maurice Denis live with Martha for almost 30 years, they will have 7 children, a huge house and a workshop with the chapel, arranged in the building of the old hospital, Villa on the coast of Brittany, where they will spend the summer. And only one tragedy — a serious long-term illness of Martha, from which she died in 1919.

Theory and practice
Maurice Denis from the beginning, from the first years of existence of the group "Nabi", is interested not only in the artistic application of the General principles, but writing a convincing theory. He writes articles that are published by a publisher of the avant-garde journal La Revue blanche Tade Nathanson. Twenty years Denis formulates the idea of a new art so provocative for sure that it will quote even decades later, members of other modernist movements, linking their art with the pure expressiveness of color and forms: "A picture — before becoming a battle horse, a Nude woman or a story — is essentially a flat surface covered with colors in a certain order".

From the mid-1890s, Denis enthusiastically working on decorative projects: the murals for private villas and sketches, tapestries, Wallpaper, stained glass. He visited Italy, and after meeting with the worksRafael andMichelangelo returned to Paris with a new vision, new ideas. He admired the spatial, stylistic and semantic scope and possibility of fresco and interior painting. In 1908 he wrote by order of the Russian patron and collectorIvan Morozov a series of panels for decorating the concert hall, personally present during the installation and resentment frees space from bulky furniture. His panels onPsyche completely lost — in the hall, said Denis should be only a few statues, vases and low (friends Morozov grumbled that very uncomfortable) stools.

Denis gets decent fees and gaining unprecedented fame. For a fee from Ivan Morozov for example, he can buy a Villa on the coast. At the same time, it will gather a book of essays called "Theory" and that over the next 10 years will re-release 3 times. He has more than 10 years of teaching painting at a private Academy Ranson.

After the First world war, during the chaos, the devastation and despair Maurice Denis climbs on old forest plundered churches and chapels conceptually new. It opens "the Studio of spiritual art", which teaches artists and artisans with art from his shattered troubles the core of European society, have lost touch with the ideal and God. It works on the frescoes in the Church of the Holy spirit in Paris, in the Church of Saint-Louis in Vincennes. From one transfer decorated with Maurice Denis Catholic churches dizzy. But during these years he wrote small, personal painting, restoring perspective, depth, shapes, volumes, lines — softness. Works in France and abroad on painted walls and ceilings of the grandest civic buildings — the Palace, built for the world exhibition, Senate building, labour Office in Geneva.

In 1922, the artist would marry again and be happy and popular until the end of life, which breaks off suddenly. In 1943, Maurice Denis get hit by a truck on a Paris street.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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Maurice Denis. Légende de chevalerie ou Trois jeunes princesses (Première version à la gouache)
Légende de chevalerie ou Trois jeunes princesses (Première version à la gouache)
Maurice Denis
1893, 45×40 cm
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The Nabis
The Nabis (Les Nabis), a group of French painters, are difficult to classify as fully belonging to a major artistic trend like Impressionism, Expressionism, or Art Nouveau. Though contemporaries of all these powerful movements, the Nabi artists directed their art along a narrow and winding course somewhere in between. Read more
(Les Nabis), a group of French painters, are difficult to classify as fully belonging to a major artistic trend like Impressionism, Expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more
, or Art Nouveau. Though contemporaries of all these powerful movements, the Nabi artists directed their art along a narrow and winding course somewhere in between.
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Artworks by the artist
total 161 artworks
Maurice Denis. Green coast at Perros-Guirec
Green coast at Perros-Guirec
1909, 97×180 cm
Maurice Denis. The woman at the stove
The woman at the stove
1893, 81×59 cm
Maurice Denis. The way to Calvary
The way to Calvary
1889, 41×33 cm
Maurice Denis. Religious mystery
Religious mystery
1898, 42×29 cm
Maurice Denis. Flying Cupid struck by the beauty of psyche
Flying Cupid struck by the beauty of psyche
1908, 394×269 cm
Maurice Denis. Meeting
1892, 37×33 cm
Maurice Denis. Mother and child
Mother and child
1895, 45×38 cm
Maurice Denis. Family leave psyche on a mountain top
Family leave psyche on a mountain top
1909, 200×275 cm
Maurice Denis. Visit Mary Elizabeth
Visit Mary Elizabeth
1894, 37×33 cm
View 161 artworks by the artist