The Nabis group, active form 1888 to 1900 in France, depicted scenes from Parisian milieu and bourgeois apartments which were already familiar to the public from the Impressionists’ productions. The group produced works with bold juxtapositions of patterns and a broad application of rich colours creating art with decorative overtones. This essay focuses on this decorative side of the art of the Nabis, and looking more into the less known member of the group, ”le Nabi étranger” Félix Vallotton and how his production reflects the decorative production of the Nabis.
The ’decorative’ in English serves as an adjective to point out superficial ornamental and attractive qualities. Although in French, the term has a more multilayered meaning which…show more content… The works often have placed an extra weight on the backgrounds as they are seen as an essential part of the composition. The patterned wallpapers of the interiors, squared elements and checkerboard effects and flat surfaces with bold dominant colour fields are the straightforward signs of their decorative elements. Not only through the elements in their paintings, the Nabis wanted also re-establish painting as a decorative art. Looking up to Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898) whose large-scale decorative paintings decorated numerous private and public buildings, the Nabis painters admired his archetypal figures and his uncanny ability to balance compositions. The language of incorporating aspects of decoration varied depending on the…show more content… This is visible in his ’Le bain au Soir d’été’ (The Bathers on a Summer Evening), 1892/93, (fig. 5) which depicts a bourgeois bathing idyll with women from different ages. The striking white robes add an eye-catching vertical, flat colour fields to the relatively calmly coloured painting. The reflection of the women in the water creates an abstraction to the picture. This careful planar composition, also evident in his woodcuts, is characteristic of Vallotton. The Bathers on a Summer Evening is an ambitious painting with carefully prepared composition. The painting showcases the sophisticated decorative impulse that occupied Vallotton’s Nabis colleagues. This subject matter addresses the nude outside the more academic context, hence making a clear break with Vallotton’s earlier work. It offers an interesting contrast between the naked and clothed women while simultaneously creating a decorative effect by this juxtaposition. Through the linear outlines, the ’coldhearted’ breaks between the women as if in their own private worlds, and the reflections of the bodies from the water, Vallotton created a decorative tapestry-like look rather than submerging the women into their