Does this painting remind you of others that you have seen before? The artist of this painting admired the work of Paul Cézanne. Both Serusier and Cézanne frequently painted still lifes: paintings of fruit, flowers, or other inanimate objects. Serusier created a sense of warped perspective in Still Life, the Artist’s Studio. The knife, vase, and bowl of fruit seem to teeter on the tilted table’s surface. Like Cézanne, Serusier was interested in exploring perspective.
Serusier studied with Gauguin and was inspired by his use of color. One of Serusier’s peers recollected advice given by Gauguin to Serusier: “How do you see those trees?… If they are yellow, then make them yellow; and that bluish shadow, paint it with pure ultramarine; and those red leaves? Use vermilion.”1 In this painting Serusier depicts an everyday scene using pure, bold color. Serusier used complimentary colors to depict the table and tablecloth. The red of the table contrasts sharply with the green tablecloth. The vibrant, saturated color seen in this painting is characteristic of the Nabis.
Outside the window within in this painting Serusier painted the rooftops of a city. It was in the urban environment of Paris that the Nabi group was founded. The Nabis were a secret organization created by a group of Parisian artists in the final years of the nineteenth century. Serusier was one of the founding members. In his writings Serusier discussed the group’s desire to express personal reactions to their environment through the formal properties of painting.
1Artist Maurice Denis, “Paul Sérusier, sa vie, son oeuvre,” in ABC de la peinture, by Paul Sérusier (Paris: Floury, 1942), 42.