Maurice Denis (French, 1943)

Painter, printmaker, and designer Maurice Denis (French, 1870–1943) was born in Normandy and attended the Lycée Condorcet in Paris. Later, he studied concurrently at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. As Denis did not support the style of Naturalism promoted by his instructors, he and fellow artists, including Paul Sérusier (French, 1863–1927), Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), and Paul Elie Ranson (French, 1864–1909), formed Les Nabis, a group and movement devoted to a style of Symbolism partly inspired by Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903) and Émile Bernard (French, 1868–1941).

Denis and his colleagues applied paint in flat planes and used radical, unnatural colors. His career in painting was productive; Denis exhibited many works with other Symbolist and Neo-Impressionist artists during the 1890s. One of his notable works from this period is Springtime (1897), which is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. During the 20th century, Denis displayed his works on a regular basis at both the Salon de la Société Nationale and the Salon des Indépendents. In 1914, he purchased and began the restoration of a 17th-century priory in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in Paris. In 1980, the priory was instituted as a museum, featuring the works of Denis and Les Nabis, called the Musée Départemental du Prieuré. Denis’ works have been exhibited at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, among other institutions.

Timeline

Born at Granville on the Channel coast, Maurice Denis was brought up at Saint-Germain-en-Laye where he lived throughout his life. He was educated at the Lycée Condorcet between 1882 and 1887 where fellow pupils included Edouard Vuillard and Ker-Xavier Roussel. Denis entered the Académie Julian in 1888, where he met Paul Sérusier and Pierre Bonnard. Together they formed the symbolist group known as the Nabis (Prophets) and looked to Paul Gauguin to lead the movement. Denis's work was greatly influenced by Gauguin and he owned three of his paintings, two still-lives of 1886 and 1888 and Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ of 1889. At the age of twenty, Denis wrote his famous article:
Définition du Néo-Traditionnisme, Art et Critique, August 1890 which assured his place as one of the most influential critics of the twentieth century. His famous dictum is a microcosm of modernist thought: It is well to remember that a picture before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote - is essentially a plain surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order. For the next twenty years, Denis's interpretive criticism played a crucial role in defining the new art. He later published his writings on art in Théories and Nouvelles Théories
Museums
Albi (Musée Toulouse-Lautrec)
Autun (Musée Rolin)
Bayonne (Musée Bonnat)
Digione (Musée des Beaux-Arts)
Nantes (Musée des Beaux-Arts)
Parigi (Bibliothèque Nationale, Musée d’Art Moderne, Musée d’Orsay, Musée des Arts Décoratifs)
Quimper (Musée des Beaux-Arts)
Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Musée Départemental du Prieuré)
Neuss (Museo Clemens Sels), Germania

Exhibitions

2008
THE FLOWERS OF EVIL STILL BLOOM - Cueto Project, New York City, NY
2008
Traces du Sacré - Centre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
2007
Paris 1900 - Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
2007
Schilders van de Ziel. Symbolisme in Frankrijk - Singer Laren, Laren
2007
Der Symbolismus und die Kunst der Gegenwart - Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal
2007
La photographie au Musée d'Orsay - 20 ans d'acquisitions - 1986-2006 - Musée d´Orsay, Paris
2007
Maurice Denis - MART- Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto (solo)
2007
Landesausstellung 2007: Maurice Denis, Maestro del Simbolismo internazionale - MART- Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto (solo)
2007
Maurice Denis - Earthly Paradise - The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montreal, QC (solo)
2006
Maurice Denis - Musée d´Orsay, Paris (solo)
2006
Paris - Athens, 1863-1940 - National Art Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens
2006
The Romance of Modernism: Paintings and Sculpture from the Scott M. Black Collec - MFA - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MA
2006
Orangerie, 1934 - les Peintres de la réalité - Musée National de l´Orangerie, Paris
2006
Women from Tokyo and Paris - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
2006
From experiment to print - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
2006
Art books - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
2005
Le Théâtre de l'OEuvre (1893-1900) naissance du théâtre moderne - Musée d´Orsay, Paris
2005
Around Gauguin - Post-Impressionist work from the Triton Foundation - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
2005
Renoir und das Frauenbild des Impressionismus - Kunsthalle Krems, Krems
2005
Dessins de Georges Seurat et des artistes néo-impressionnistes - Musée d´Orsay, Paris
2005
The Triton Collection - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague
2005
Graphik des XX. Jahrhundert - Galerie Vömel GmbH, Dusseldorf
2004
Figura de la Francia Moderna-De Ingres a Toulouse-Lautrec - Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca
2004
Figuras de la Francia moderna - Fundación Juan March, Madrid
2004
Von Delacroix bis Gauguin - Französische Druckgraphik des 19. Jahrhunderts - Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
2004
Graphik des XX. Jahrhunderts - Galerie Vömel GmbH, Dusseldorf
2002
Gauguin to Matisse: French Masterpieces from Russia's Hermitage Museum - Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
2002
Obras maestras de la pintura europea. Colección Rau - Museo Nacional de Colombia, Santafé de Bogota
2002
From Puvis de Chavannes to Matisse and Picasso - Palazzo Grassi, Venice
2002
La collezione Rau. Sei secoli di grande pittura europea - GAMeC - Galleria d´Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, Bergamo
2001
Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
2001
Beyond the easel - decorative paintings 1890 - 1930 - The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2000
Gauguin to Toulouse-Lautrec - French Prints of the 1890s - The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montreal, QC
1999
Les Peintres de l'âme. Le Symbolisme idéaliste en France. - Musée d'Ixelles - Museum van Elsene, Brussels
1999
Do impresionismo ao Fauvismo. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza - CGAC - Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela
1997
Paris-The 1890s - MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
1995
46th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale / Biennale di Venezia - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice
1956
Shadow and Substance: The Shadow Theater of Montmartre and Modern Art - Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX

Literature

Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Catalogue officiel illustré, Salon 1932
Maurice Denis, Orangerie des Tuileries, Parigi, Réunion des Musée Nationaux, 1970
B. Thomson, The Post-Impressionists, Oxford, Phaidon, 1983
Maurice Denis et la Bretagne, Maurice Denis à Perros-Guirec, Musée Municipal de Morlaix, Ville de Perros-Guirec, 1985
A.A.V.V., Pointillisme, sur les traces de Seurat, Losanna, Fondations de l’Hermitage, 1997
A. Berès, Maurice Denis, 1870-1943, Huguette Berès, 1992
J.P. Bouillon, Maurice Denis, Ginevra, Skira, 1993
Da Renoir a Picasso, un secolo d’arte al Petit Palais di Ginevra, a cura di Paola Gribaudo, Milano, Electa, 2001
Da Caillebotte a Picasso, I capolavori della collezione Oscar Ghez dal Museo del Petit Palais di Ginevra a cura di L. Caramel, N. Sainte Fare Garnot, G. Gentry, Milano, Mazzotta, 2003