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Denis, Maurice

Denis, Maurice môrēs´ dənē´ [key], 1870–1943, French painter and writer on art. His paintings, usually on religious themes, have not proved so influential as his art theories. As the spokesman for symbolism and for the Nabis , Denis proposed his famous definition of painting: Remember that a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude, an anecdote or whatnot, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order. In 1919, Denis attempted to revive the teaching of religious art and cofounded the Studios of Sacred Art. His writings include Théories (2 vol.; 1920, 1922) and Histoire de l'art religieux (1939).

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