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Henri-Gabriel Ibels

French printmaker, illustrator and painter
(b. Paris, 30 Nov 1867; d Paris, Feb 1936)


Joseph et Mme Putiphar
Joseph et Mme Putiphar
Private Collection

Ibels studied at the Académie Julian, Paris, in 1888–89 with Bonnard and Vuillard. He became one of the original members of the Nabis movement which included artists’ friends such as Gauguin, Utrillo, Felix Valotton and Emile Bernard. He joined in the early group ventures such as printmaking, puppet plays and theatre design, but he was never involved with the more esoteric Symbolist aspirations of some of the group’s leading members.

He was also part of the Avant Garde period (1885-1910). He first exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1891 and participated in the Nabis’s group shows at Louis Le Barc de Boutteville’s gallery. With Edouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis, he was quick to attract public attention, the nature of his work earning him the sobriquet ‘le Nabis journaliste’.

Au Cirque
Au cirque published in L'estampe originale, 1893
Color lithograph
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Ibels’ works were bold and expressively graphic, typical of the artists of these movements in that their work included not only fine art, but early forms of graphic design and advertising as well, as viewed in lithographs and posters for theaters and cabarets, and book illustrations (Gauguin, Utrillo, and Ibels).

His art was inspired by contemporary life, with subjects drawn from the spectacle of modern Paris, particularly from the café, circus and boxing ring. Both in subject and technique he can be likened to such artists as Adolphe Willette, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (who was his friend and began lithography at Ibels’ insistence) and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, and his work shares many characteristics with theirs, notably an economy of line and simplicity of shapes and colors. Such features derived in Ibels’ case from the art of Honoré Daumier, Japanese printmakers and Paul Gauguin and the Pont-Aven group.

Museums:
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Van Gogh Museum (Vincent Van Gogh Foundation) in Les Nabis Collection
The University of Michigan Museum of Art
Bibliography:
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Van Gogh Museum (Vincent Van Gogh Foundation) in Les Nabis Collection
The University of Michigan Museum of Art

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