The Symbolist artists willingly turned to pastel techniques in their attempt to break away from the prevailing Naturalism of the 1880s and to render the invisible visible. In distancing themselves from reality so as to leave room for imagination, the painters found the ideal medium to create suggestive images full of mystery and incongruity and conducive to day-dreams in this powder with its diffuse fragility.
Although Odilon Redon remains the undisputed master in the field, the young generation of Nabis also seized on this medium. The latter, following in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin, sought to revive painting through colour. In the purity and radiance of the colours unique to pastels, they discovered a means to portray the aesthetic formulated by Maurice Denis, the group’s theorist, of a “flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order” and thereby release the expressive power of colour.
On display until 25 November 2018, level 0, room 8a.