Art of the Nabis

What I'm Viewing

I love art, but I have rarely finished viewing a museum exhibit and thought: “Wow! I want to see that again.” Yet that’s exactly what happened after  Private Lives, Home and Family in the Art of the Nabis, Paris 1889-1900 at the Portland Art Museum. I returned this past weekend, and man, am I glad I did!

The exhibit focuses on the artwork of Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Félix Vallotton, and Édouard Vuillard. They were members of Les Nabis, a group of late-nineteenth century Parisian artists inspired by the Symbolist movement in literature and theater. Rather than depict fleeting moments in nature like the Impressionists did, Les Nabis captured the hidden emotions in the everyday. 

So many of the pieces in the exhibit dazzled me—not only with their color and composition, but also with the story they tell about small pleasures in the artists’ lives at home. Yet, beneath the surface bubble hints of suppressed secrets and familial tension.

In the beautiful yet poignant painting “Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist” by Vuillard, the sister cowers so close to the wall that the pattern of her dress merges with the pattern of the wallpaper. It’s as if she wishes to disappear into it and avoid the woman sitting in the middle of the room, the mother dressed all in black whose posture suggests complete control over the space and everything in it. The discord between the two women gave me chills. My mind swam with ideas for stories that I could write about this type of relationship.

So much of the art struck me on an emotional level and sparked ideas about characters, familial conflict, and how to survive by pursuing beauty in the everyday—the exact type of tales I love to write.

Latest posts

April Showered Us With Holidays

Duck and Matzah Brei

International Sedar

T.C. O’Leary’s

Get your Free E-book now!

Ursula LeGuin said, “The creative adult is the child who survived.” Yet what happens when that creativity gets blocked by everyday life? My e-book Living Creatively shows how we can release our inner artist and see beauty in the everyday.

You will be automatically subscribed to my newsletter!

Join Gail’s Art Encounters

Sign up for her monthly newsletter here.

MM slash DD slash YYYY

Art of the Nabis