Denis, Maurice

Denis, Maurice Biography

French painter, one of the leading artists and theoreticians of the Symbolist movement. Denis studied at the Academie Julian (1888) under Jules Lefebvre and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Reacting against the naturalistic tendencies of Impressionism, Denis fell under the influence of the work of Paul Gauguin, whose style was also much admired by Denis's fellow students Paul Serusier, Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Ker Xavier Roussel. With these friends, Denis joined in the Symbolist movement and its later offshoot, the group of painters collectively called the Nabis. The quasi-mystical attitude of the Nabis was perfectly suited to Denis's highly religious nature.Denis gave a new impetus to religious art in France, and in his critical essays he formulated many of the principles of cubism and fauvism.

In 1890 Denis expressed the underlying principle of much modern painting in the following often-quoted words: "It should be remembered that a picture-before being a warhorse, a nude, or an anecdote of some sort-is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order."

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