The Les Nabis(pronounced nah-BEE) were a group made up of Post-Impressionist avant-garde artists in France who were active mainly in the 1890’s. The group was initially organized by Paul Sérusier(1863~1927) in the late 1880’s, who gathered his friends which included some main figures such as Emile Bernard(1869~1941), Edouard Vuillard(1868~1940), Pierre Bonnard(1867~1947), and Maurice Denis(1870~1943), and most of them attended at the private art school of Rodolph Julian(Académie Julian).
The Nabi group were deeply inspired by, and rooted from the works of Paul Gauguin. In 1888 Sérusier, who was one of pupils of Gauguin’s, took over Gauguin’s theory of the Synthesism movement shared it with his group of young artist of Académie Julian and got into action. This group had a monthly meeting at a café at Passage Brady. Poet Henri Cazalis named the group ‘Nabi’ as in the Hebrew word for the prophet. The Nabi regarded of themselves as the pioneers of art and had great pride at that fact.
Around 1892, the Nabi began to have mystical, symbolic tendencies by being influenced by the literature movements of Symbolism, and showed distinctive characteristics like anti-realistic, decorative propensities in the way of expressions. They adapted techniques from the Ukiyo-e engravings like using smooth color planes for example, and made bold frame compositions. Félix Vallotton(1865~1925)’s engravings and posters or Vuillard’s decorative paintings clearly show these characteristics.
The Nabi mainly brushed around in the 1890’s, so after the 20th century, everybody took their own lines.