Rippl-Rónai altar and a japanese-style fire-screen from paris
The exhibition Rippl-Rónai and the Nabis displaying the artist’s ‘black’ period was organised by Kaposvár’s Rippl-Rónai Museum last May. The homogeneity of the 80 paintings offered a special experience and new lessons. Twenty lithographs of works by Nabis artists – Gauguin, Lautrec, Carrière and Redon – demonstrated the relations with contemporary Parisian painting. The sensations were two unknown but significant works by Rippl-Rónai – a huge painting and a fire-screen. The pictures reflected images of Paris – Rippl’s room, night time on the Seine embankment, interior of a small inn, a promenade lit with electric lighting, the Church of St. Justin. The artist lived with Lazarine Baudrion, who later became his wife and who designed stylised embroidery in a decorative spirit. Women Embroidering (c 1894) reflects the atmosphere of immersion in devoted activity. Lazarine and her younger sister Clodin are not only embroidering but transforming themselves, becoming at one with the needlework. The friendship of Rippl and Knowles was very important. The Scottish aristocrat, albeit a poor artist, he was able to interpret the thinking of the Nabi circle, as articulated by Sérusier and Denis, with wise simplicity. The Nabis dined together once a month and every Saturday they gathered in the shrine of Paul Ranson’s studio. Rippl rarely attended since he didn’t know how to apply what he heard, though he accepted their basic principles. A calm life and the presentation of intimacy were common features, and the Nabis accepted the reality, fashion and formalities of their times. Several took up applied arts, exemplified by tapestry designs and fire-screens. Their works lacked Gaugin’s monumentality and craving for myth. In view of that, their movement is known as ‘the popular avant-garde’.