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Biography of Henri Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936)

Ibels' inventiveness as an artist and lithographer helped establish the graphic arts as an appreciated form of artistic expression. He was one of the first of the emerging artists of the 1890's to produce significant work in color lithography.

Born in Paris in 1867, Ibels was a self-taught artist who enjoyed and excelled in painting, lithography and writing. At an early age he exhibited in the Salon des Independants, appearing there first in 1891. From 1888 to 1889, Ibels studied at the Academie Julian in Paris.

During his time at the Academie, he joined Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis and Serusier to form the group called the Nabis movement. The Nabis encouraged a mode of painting and drawing that was an alternative to the realism of the official Salons. The Nabis felt it their duty to promote a shift in artistic values and techniques. Their aim was to make art a part of everyday life through the media of printmaking, book and magazine illustration, textiles, and the design of posters, furniture, and stage sets.

Ibels was a good friend of Toulouse-Lautrec. Art critics of the period frequently associated the two. Ibels and Lautrec collaborated on numerous projects including the invention of the splatter technique that was perfected in the latter's work.

Ibels also explored the subject of the working class, placing him among the socially conscious artists of his day. He differed from the Nabis in his compassion for the common man and his interest in the reality of modern life. He created many illustrations that highlighted political and social issues. To this end, he turned his hand to writing and teaching.

Henri-Gabriel Ibels died in Paris in 1936. Later in his life, Ibels' popularity and reputation had lessened. But now his contribution and creativity are recognized and treasured.

References: "The Color Revolution" by Cate and Hitchings, 1978