Maurice Denis (môrēs´ dənē´), 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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