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Maurice Denis - Musée d'Orsay

Musée D'Orsay, until 21 january 2007.

In December 1892, Maurice Denis written in André Gide: “I was very occupied by lithographic work: I am at the beginning, with the whole beginning of your illustration.” The young artist refers to the compositions here that it considers for the Voyage of Urien, that it will draw one year later. He has then in building site of engravings for Sagesse, Verlaine, for a text of Edouard Dujardins and the program of the Lady of the sea of Ibsen. Nothing is opposite in theory than the paganism asserted by fringant follower of Wilde and this artist whose catholic faith is already well anchored. And yet a major friendship continues to bind them until the disappearance of Denis in 1943. This last will have always had a constant curiosity for the others, other philosophies and beliefs and for the literature.
Cofounder of the group of the nabis in 1891 with his comrades of the Academy Julian (Pierre Bonnard, Paul Ranson, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Paul Sérusier), it incarnates soon with glare the spirit of French symbolism, while not rejecting anything the heritage of L, Gauguin and even of Van Gogh. But it does not make a point of being expressed by a language of an aggressive radicality.
Already at that time, it appears a mixture very curious about plastic boldnesses counterbalanced by the very modern wisdom of the compositions of Puvis de Chavannes, of which it is very admiring. It combines the decorative spirit of the Art nouveau with an often traditional iconography and very chocolate éclair like, for example, Triple portrait of promised in marriage Marthe (1892) or Virginal spring (1899). However, the Orchard of the wise virgins is a kind of daydream erotic with mystical keys. Many angels pink, Christ greens, the good sisters in the meadows like as many flowers, always treated with a remarkable freedom.
Unfortunately, the religious bigotry of Maurice Denis will be right of the astonishing paradox of its style and its culture. It ceases launching out in the hazardous search of new aesthetic experiments and directs little by little towards a neoclassicism enough conformist. The History of Psyché, together decorative that it carries out for the Russian collector Ivan Morosov in 1907, of a great freshness but is already revealed a loss of the merry effervescence of its style. And yet the blue Pond (1912), which is a work of a not very common audacity in phase with the fauvism and even with the German expressionnism, once more shows contradictions which live it then and which gave him wings up to that point.

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