Maurice Denis

Maurice Denis
Born Nov. 25, 1870
Died Nov. 1943
Nationality French
Movement Symbolist
Les Nabis
Field Painting
Works View Complete Works

Born in 1870 in a town called Granville, Manche may have set Maurice Denis on a course towards becoming a painter. This location was a coastal community in the Normandy area of France. Beautiful coastlines and scenic waters would remain a favorite subject matter of his works. This, along with biblical renderings, would make up much of his collection.

Denis was borne to a wealthy family, this enabled him to receive an education from some of the best in art schools. As a young man, Maurice studied at two of the most respected of French art education facilities, Academie Julian and Ecole des Beaux-Arts. At the Academie he was tutored by the highly renowned painter, Jules Lefebvre. While considered by most to be of a proponent of the avant-garde style, Maurice Denis always maintained his religious influence.

Art Form

While attending the Academie Julian he met fellow painters Pierre Bonnard and Paul Serusier. They, along with others, established the Nabi art form in 1890. Nabi in Hebrew means Prophet. These gentlemen found this to be the perfect description to what they knew would be the beginnings of a new expression. Though the men parted ways by 1900, the Nabi art form would remain and even influence future artists, which include the likes of Henri Matisse. Besides being a pioneer of the Les Nabi’s movement, his view of life helped lead to other art forms such as Abstract, Fauvism, and Cubism.

Later Life

Paul Jamot and Maurice Denis.

Denis published a collection of theoretical and historical pieces in 1922. In 1931, he was commissioned by an International Christian trade union to provide the artwork for the stairwell of Centre William Rappard.

It took a half a century following his death in 1943, which was a result of an automobile accident, for his life works to be shown on a major stage. They were first shown at a an exhibit in Liverpool, England at the Walker Art Gallery. In 2007, Montreal, Canada was the location of a similar display which was the initial introduction of Maurice Denis’s artwork in North America.

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