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Symbolism Collage

Symbolism

Started: 1880

Ended: 1910

Symbolism Timeline

Quotes

"My originality consists in bringing to life, in a human way, improbable beings and making them live according to the laws of probability, by putting - as far as possible - the logic of the visible world at the service of the invisible."
Odilon Redon
"I painted impressions from my childhood ... by painting the colors and lines and shapes I had seen in moments of emotion - I tried once again, as on a gramophone, to reawaken the vibrant emotions."
Edvard Munch

KEY ARTISTS

Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
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James WhistlerJames Whistler
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Gustave MoreauGustave Moreau
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Odilon RedonOdilon Redon
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Jan TooropJan Toorop
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Aubrey BeardsleyAubrey Beardsley
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"In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial Ideals."

Jean Moreas Signature

Synopsis

As opposed to Impressionism, in which the emphasis was on the reality of the created paint surface itself, Symbolism was both an artistic and a literary movement that suggested ideas through symbols and emphasized the meaning behind the forms, lines, shapes, and colors. The works of some of its proponents exemplify the ending of the tradition of representational art coming from Classical times. Symbolism can also be seen as being at the forefront of modernism, in that it developed new and often abstract means to express psychological truth and the idea that behind the physical world lay a spiritual reality. Symbolists could take the ineffable, such as dreams and visions, and give it form.

Key Ideas

What unites the various artists and styles associated with Symbolism is the emphasis on emotions, feelings, ideas, and subjectivity rather than realism. Their works are personal and express their own ideologies, particularly the belief in the artist's power to reveal truth.
In terms of specific subject matter, the Symbolists combined religious mysticism, the perverse, the erotic, and the decadent. Symbolist subject matter is typically characterized by an interest in the occult, the morbid, the dream world, melancholy, evil, and death.
Instead of the one-to-one, direct-relationship symbolism found in earlier forms of mainstream iconography, the Symbolist artists aimed more for nuance and suggestion in the personal, half-stated, and obscure references called for by their literary and musical counterparts.
Symbolism provided a transition from Romanticism in the early part of the 19th century to modernism in the early part of the 20th century. In addition, the internationalism of Symbolism challenges the commonly held historical trajectory of modern art developed in France from Impressionism through Cubism.

Beginnings

Symbolism Image

Symbolism grew out of and was codified in the works of the writers Gustave Kahn and Jean Moréas, who first used the term "Symbolism" in 1886. These writers rejected Émile Zola's Naturalism and favored the subjectivity of the poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, who both exercised great influence. Mallarmé hosted Symbolist receptions every Tuesday in his apartment; he was friends with many Symbolist artists including Paul Gauguin, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Odilon Redon, and Edvard Munch.

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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