Maurice Denis (25 Nov. 1870 – 13 Nov. 1943); French painter and writer, and member of the Symbolist and Les Nabis movements. His theories contributed to the foundations of cubism, fauvism, and abstract art.

...At the Académie, he met painters and future Nabi members including Sérusier and Bonnard; through Bonnard he also met the future Nabis Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Hermann-Paul. In 1890, they formed The Nabis. They chose "Nabi"—Hebrew for "Prophet"—because they understood they would be creating new forms of expression. The group would split apart by the end of the decade, and would... (

Born in the fishing port of Granville in the Manche department of north-west France. This Normandy coastal town with its scenic coastline and its countryside hinterland were very picturesque and would feature in many of Denis works... Maurice was born into a wealthy family and attended the best school and academies....

Maurice Denis was a lover of art theory and at the time published an article, Définition du néo-tranditionnisme in August 1890 in the periodical, Art et Critique, in which he defended their new ideas on art and this became Les Nabi’s manifesto. It was a definitive declaration which signified the founding philosophies of cubism and fauvism and set up the foundation for the theories of abstraction that would carry on expanding throughout the 20th century. The article opened with the famous lines:

'…It is well to remember that a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude woman or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order…'

Denis would, in 1922, publish a collection of his historical and theoretical work in one book entitled Nouvelles théories sur l’art moderne, sur l’art sacré (New Theories of Modern and Sacred Art), often simply referred to as “Theories by Maurice Denis.”
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