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Les Nabis: French Prophets of Modern Art

Les Nabis: French Prophets of Modern Art

Monday, December 9, 2013

West Wall Gallery, L. V. Eberhard Center, Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus


This exhibition is a selection from the Robert L. Hoskins and Erwin A. Raible Collection of Fin de Siècle French Prints. A gift of Elaine Rutowski Shay.

The word "Nabis" means "prophet" in Hebrew and Arabic and was a term applied to a rebellious group of young art students at the Académie Julian in Paris, France. The poet Henri Cazalis (1840 - 1909) coined the term "Les Nabis" by drawing parallels between these artists, who aimed to revitalize painting much as the ancient Jewish prophets rejuvenated Israel. This movement set an avant-garde pace for art, one that was distinctly different from the Impressionist painters who used small, thin brush strokes to emphasize accurate depictions of light.

Erv Raible began collecting when he and his business partner opened cabaret and piano bar style clubs in New York City. A critical question they faced was, what should the club's ambiance be? One of the clubs had chandeliers that resembled the Moulin Rouge of Paris in the 1890s and Raible quickly thought of the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Fin de siècle French prints became the collector's focus.

Grand Valley acquired this collection of French Prints in 2009 and has made numerous reproductions since, for display purposes. Currently, selections from this French print collection may be found on Grand Valley campuses in Allendale and Grand Rapids, and at Grand Valley's Detroit Center.

The exhibit is ongoing through Friday, April 25, 2014. Free and open to the public. For more information call the GVSU Art Gallery at (616) 331-2563 or visit: www.gvsu.edu/artgallery/