A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art

By Ian Chilvers | Go to book overview

N

Nabis. A group of painters, mainly French, active in Paris in the 1890s; their outlook was essentially *Symbolist and they were particularly influenced by * Gauguin's expressive use of colour and rhythmic pattern. The name Nabis (Hebrew for 'prophets') was suggested by the poet Henri Cazalis in reference to the missionary zeal with which they promoted Gauguin's teachings. * Sérusier, who met Gauguin at Pont-Aven in 1888, was the driving force behind the group and with * Denis was its main theorist. Other members included * Bonnard, * Maillol (before he turned to sculpture), Ranson (see ACADÉMIE), * Roussel, * Vuillard, the Hungarian Josef Rippl-Rónai ( 1861-1927), the Swiss * Vallotton, and the Dutchman Jan Verkade ( 1868-1946). They were active in design (of posters, stained glass, and theatrical decor) and book illustration as well as painting. Group exhibitions were held between 1892 and 1899, after which the members gradually drifted apart. Several of them, however, continued Nabis ideas into the 20th century, notably Denis and Sérusier, whose work remained esoteric in spirit and bound up with their religious beliefs. ( Verkade was even more devout, entering a Benedictine monastery in Germany in 1894 and being ordained in 1902, after which he was known as Dom Willibrod Verkade; he continued to paint fairly regularly up to the First World War.) Bonnard and Vuillard departed radically from Nabis ideas in the quiet *Intimiste scenes for which they became chiefly famous, but their later decorative work sometimes retained a feeling for flat pattern that recalls their Nabis days.

Nadelman, Elie (1882-1946). Polish-born sculptor and draughtsman who became an American citizen in 1927. After brief studies in his native Warsaw and in Munich he settled in Paris in 1903 or 1904 and lived there until 1914. Initially he was influenced by * Rodin, but he soon became interested in more avant- garde trends and he later claimed that in some of his work (particularly drawings) of around 1906-7 he had anticipated * Picasso in the diffraction of forms typical of *Cubism. He knew many leading members of the Parisian avant-garde (including * Apollinaire, * Brancusi, Picasso, and the * Steins), and his early patrons included Helena Rubinstein ( 1870-1965), the Polish-born cosmetics manufacturer and art collector. His first one-man exhibition was at the Galerie Druet, Paris, in 1909. With the outbreak of the First World War he moved to London and then New York, helped by Madame Rubinstein, who commissioned him to make sleek marble heads for her beauty salons.

Nadelman already had a considerable reputation when he arrived in America and his first one-man show there (at * Stieglitz's gallery in 1915) was a great success. Within a short time he was well established in the New York art world, his friends including Paul *Manship and Gertrude Vanderbilt* Whitney. He married a wealthy widow in 1919 and they lived in some style, with a town house in Manhattan and an estate at Riverdale, New York State. They also spent lavishly collecting American folk art. Nadelman's work has a witty sophistication appropriate to the high society world in which he moved, as with Man in the Open Air (MOMA, New York, 1915), a delightful bowler-hatted bronze in a pose mimicking ancient Greek sculpture. With his humour went a bold simplification and distortion of forms (akin to those of * Lachaise) that place him among the pioneers of modern sculpture in America. The Depression had a disastrous effect on his market (he had to sell the house in Manhattan) and his career virtually ended when a good deal of his work was accidentally destroyed in 1935. He was already leading a reclusive life by this time, but during the Second World War he taught

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A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • A 1
  • B 46
  • C 106
  • D 154
  • E 189
  • F 204
  • G 228
  • H 264
  • I 293
  • J 299
  • K 308
  • L 332
  • M 360
  • N 426
  • O 450
  • P 461
  • Q 502
  • R 503
  • S 540
  • T 605
  • U 626
  • V 631
  • W 646
  • X 663
  • Y 665
  • Z 667
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