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Paul Sérusier (1864 – 1927)





Paul Sérusier


Birth name Paul Sérusier

Born 9 November 1864, Paris, France

Died 7 October 1927, Morlaix, France

Nationality French

Movement Post-Impressionism




Serusier is, in a sense, the main link between the Pont-Aven and Nabi groups of artists. He started in the Academie Jullian
studio, where he used to collect the fees and keep the common purse, and it was not until September 1888 that he met Gauguin at Pont-Aven, through Emile Bernard. The result of this brief encounter was the famous Talisman du Bois d' Amour, a landscape painted on a cigar box under Gauguin's direction in 'purple, vermilion, veronese green and other colours used pure and undiluted, with practically no white added, just as they come out of the tube.' When he got back to Paris, Serusier showed it to his fellow students at the Academie Jullian, Maurice Denis, Bonnard, Vuillard and Roussel, and told them about the new aesthetic as practised at Pont-Aven. They promptly decided to constitute a group of their own. Cazalis, who was something of a Hebrew scholar gave it the name 'nabi' meaning prophet, and Serusier became its leader. The group developed from its original Impressionism, to adopt a sort of symbolism with neo-platonic leanings. In 1889 Serusier and Gauguin worked together at Le Pouldu; after Gauguin had left for Tahiti, Serusier remained for a while in Brittany as he found plenty of atmosphere there and did not feel any need to go elsewhere. The works he painted during this period are brightly coloured; in Gauguin's style, but less forceful; more 'anecdotal'. Serusier then went to Germany to visit his pupil Verkade, and from 1895 onwards, travelled in Italy and central Europe. He was strongly attracted by the occult and by medieval thought, as well as by Giotto and Fra Angelico. He went through a period of intellectual doubt only resolved in 1902 at the Benedictine Abbey of Beuron, where Verkade  had been living since his conversion to Catholicism and entering the Benedictine Order. After recovering from his breakdown, Serusier became more interested in coulor harmony than in ideas, and once he was free from Gauguin's influence, was able to develop individual style. After 1914 he retired to Chateauneuf-du-Faou where he decorated the church, and in 1921 his A.B.C.  of Painting was published. In this book he asserted  that the fundamentals of art were all to be found in the Italian Primitives. He died at Morlaix in1927.

Based on Phaidon encyclopedia of Impressionism, Maurice Serullaz, Phaidon, 1978


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