Paul Ranson as Prophet

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Paul Serusier, Paul Ranson as Prophet, 1890
By ANIRUDH VADLAMANI

Les Nabis was a decorative period of art which focused on vibrant colors and extravagant landscapes. Well, that's the problem, was. Nabi in arabic stands for "prophet." A period that started out with good intentions quickly became a massive bloodbath between faction-like groups of artists. It was a full on bloodbath, painter vs painter, spearheaded by the prophet and founder of the movement, Paul Ranson. Ranson was so inspired by the works of Paul Gauguin that he claimed the painting spoke to him, and they asked him to create the movement we now know as Les Nabis.

The wondrous painting before us was painted after a long conversation between Ranson and Serusier. After which, Ranson explained the movement to Serusier. Serusier was so moved, he sketched Ranson, mid-rant, and transferred said sketch onto a canvas with a scepter and a bible. Many critics find the painting highly satirical. The obvious sign of this is the fact that Ranson appears to be giving the bird to the bible (middle finger to religion). This is representative of Serusier ditching his old religion of Christianity for the new concept of "Les Nabis" (which isn't even a religion). 

While the Era started out with good intentions with artworks such as Serusier's Talisman, Paul Ranson as Prophet, and Ranson's Nabi Landscape, it quickly turned for the worst. The dispute started when another famous Nabi artist, Maurice Denis, used Paul Ranson's wife as the model for the women in all of his paintings. The strangest part was that Maurice had never seen Paul Ranson's wife. There are numerous theories that Denis had met his wife during a day trip to Limognes (they are all from France), and coincidentally sketched her not knowing that she was the self-proclaimed prophet's wife. After much dispute between Denis and Ranson, Ranson decided finish the movment since participating artists, in his mind, had lost their vision of his original plan.

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