Symbolism (322)

Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the movement had its roots in Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857) by Charles Baudelaire. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire greatly admired and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images. The aesthetic was developed by Stephane Mallarme and Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and '70s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was articulated through a series of manifestoes and attracted a generation of writers. The label "symbolist" itself comes from the critic Jean Moreas, who coined it in order to distinguish the symbolists from the related decadent movement in literature and art.

Distinct from, but related to, the movement in literature, symbolism in art represents an outgrowth of the darker, gothic side of Romanticism, but where Romanticism was impetuous and rebellious, symbolist art was static and hieratic.

Symbolism was largely a reaction against naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic movements which attempted to capture reality in its gritty particularity, and to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. These movements invited a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, and dreams, the path to symbolism began with that reaction. Some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before moving in the direction of symbolism, for Huysmans, this change reflected his awakening interest in religion and spirituality. On the other hand, certain of the characteristic subjects of the decadents reflect naturalist interest in sexuality and sordid subjects, but in their case this was mixed with a stiff dose of Byronic Romanticism and the world-weariness characteristic of the fin de siecle.

Symbolism in literature is distinct from symbolism in art although the two overlapped on a number of points. In painting, symbolism was a continuation of some mystical tendencies in the Romantic tradition, which included such artists as Caspar David Friedrich, Fernand Khnopff and John Henry Fuseli and it was even more closely aligned with the self-consciously dark and private decadent movement.

There were several rather dissimilar groups of symbolist painters and visual artists, which included Gustave Moreau, Gustav Klimt, Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, Odilon Redon, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edvard Munch, Felicien Rops, and Jan Toorop. Symbolism in painting had an even larger geographical reach than symbolism in poetry, reaching Mikhail Vrubel, Nicholas Roerich, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Martiros Saryan, Mikhail Nesterov, Leon Bakst in Russia, as well as Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Elihu Vedder, Remedios Varo, Morris Graves, David Chetlahe Paladin, and Elle Nicolai in the United States. Auguste Rodin is sometimes considered a symbolist in sculpture.

The symbolist painters mined mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul, seeking evocative paintings that brought to mind a static world of silence. The symbols used in symbolism are not the familiar emblems of mainstream iconography but intensely personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references. More a philosophy than an actual style of art, symbolism in painting influenced the contemporary Art Nouveau movement and Les Nabis. In their exploration of dreamlike subjects, symbolist painters are found across centuries and cultures, as they are still today, Bernard Delvaille has described Rene Magritte's surrealism as "Symbolism plus Freud".

In the English-speaking world, the closest counterpart to symbolism was aestheticism. The pre-Raphaelites were contemporaries of the earlier symbolists, and have much in common with them. Symbolism had a significant influence on modernism, and its traces can be seen in the work of many modernist artists, including T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Conrad Aiken, Hart Crane, and William Butler Yeats in the anglophone tradition and Ruben Dario in Hispanic letters. The early poems of Guillaume Apollinaire have strong affinities with symbolism.

The cover to Aleksandr Blok's 1909 book, Theatre. Konstantin Somov's illustrations for the Russian symbolist poet display the continuity between symbolism and Art Nouveau artists such as Aubrey Beardsley.

In Romania, symbolists directly influenced by French poetry first gained influence in the 1880s, when Alexandru Macedonski reunited a group of young poets around his magazine Literatorul. Polemicizing with the established Junimea and overshadowed by the influence of Mihai Eminescu, symbolism was recovered as an inspiration during and after the 1910s, when it was voiced in the works of Tudor Arghezi, Ion Minulescu, George Bacovia, Ion Barbu, Mateiu Caragiale and Tudor Vianu, and held in esteem by the modernist magazine Sburatorul.

The symbolist painters were an important influence on expressionism and surrealism in painting, two movements which descend directly from symbolism proper. The harlequins, paupers, and clowns of Pablo Picasso's "Blue Period" show the influence of symbolism, and especially of Puvis de Chavannes. In Belgium, symbolism penetrated so deeply that it came to be thought of as a national style: the static strangeness of painters like Rene Magritte can be seen as a direct continuation of symbolism. The work of some symbolist visual artists, such as Jan Toorop, directly impacted the curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau.

Many early motion pictures also employ symbolist visual imagery and themes in their staging, set designs, and imagery. The films of German expressionism owe a great deal to symbolist imagery. The virginal "good girls" seen in the films of D. W. Griffith, and the silent movie "bad girls" portrayed by Theda Bara, both show the continuing influence of symbolism, as do the Babylonian scenes from Griffith's Intolerance. Symbolist imagery lived on longest in horror film: as late as 1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr showed the obvious influence of symbolist imagery, parts of the film resemble tableau vivant re-creations of the early paintings of Edvard Munch.

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The Kiss

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

The Scream

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Adele Bloch-Bauer I

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

The Scream

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Hope II

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Anxiety

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Watersnakes II (Girlfriends)

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$329

Despair

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Girlfriends (Water Snakes I)

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$419

Despair

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Madonna

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Danae

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$259

Goldfish

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$439

The Sun

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$279

Hope I

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$449

The Girl By The Window

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$239

Baby (Cradle)

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

The Sun

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

The Three Ages of Woman

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Kiss By The Window

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

The Virgin

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$239

Evening On Karl Johan Street

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Death and Life

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$259

Madonna

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Red And White

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$239

Woman With Fan

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Portrait of Fritza Riedler

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$249

Jealousy

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Portrait of Eugenia (Mada) Primavesi

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$319

Dance Of Life

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Portrait-of-Adele-Bloch-Bauer-II

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$299

Vampire

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Judith I

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$349

The Murderess

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Judith II

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$569

The Murderer

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$259

Mäda-Primavesi

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

The Woman In Three Stages

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Girl With Blue Veil

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$259

Dance On The Beach

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$209

Girlfriends

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Moonlight

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Summer Night

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$239

The Dancer (Vorher Ria Munk II)

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$339

Friederike Maria Beer

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$269

Summer Night'S Dream (The Voice)

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Portrait of Baroness Elisabeth Bachofen

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

At The Roulette Table In Monte Carlo

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Amalie Zuckerkandl

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$249

Gamblers In Monte Carlo

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Johanna Perennial

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

Melancholy

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$239

Portrait of a Lady Original

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

Self Portrait

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Portrait of a Lady

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$259

Self Portrait In Hell

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Galloping Horse

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Lady With the Muff

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$249

Lady in White

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Separation

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$239

Portrait of Helen Klimt 1893

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$299

Golgotha

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Dame Mit Hut Und Federbos

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$249

Death In The Sickroom

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Hygieia

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

Ashes

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Medicine Lost Painting

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

Workers On Their Way Home

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Pallas Athene 1898

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$249

Metabolism

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Nuda Veritas

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$639

The Kiss

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Adam and Eve

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$449

Inheritance

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Young Woman On The Veranda

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Will O' the Wisp

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$259

Bewegte Wasser

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

Ladies On The Bridge

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Mutter Mit Zwei Kindern (Familie)

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Girl On A Bridge

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$249

Woman in An Armchair

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$249

The Girls On The Bridge

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$209

Portrait of Emilie Floge 1902

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$379

Girls On The Bridge

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$199

Portrait of Rose Von Rosthorn Friedmann

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$319

The Smell Of Death

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$209

Margaret Stonborough Wittgenstein

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$349

Four Girls In Asgardstrand

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Starry Night

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Portrait Marie Henneberg

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Portrait of Hermine Gallia (1904)

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$319

Summer Night By The Beach

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Sonja Knips

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$229

Clothes On A Line In ÅSgåRdstrand

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Portrait of Gertrud Loew

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$519

The Sower

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$229

Portrait of a Woman

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$389

The Yellow Log

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Girl’s Head Turned Left

By Gustav Klimt
Sizes starting at
$279

Spring Day On Jeloya

By Edvard Munch
Sizes starting at
$219

Symbolism (322)

Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the movement had its roots in Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857) by Charles Baudelaire. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire greatly admired and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images. The aesthetic was developed by Stephane Mallarme and Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and '70s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was articulated through a series of manifestoes and attracted a generation of writers. The label "symbolist" itself comes from the critic Jean Moreas, who coined it in order to distinguish the symbolists from the related decadent movement in literature and art.

Distinct from, but related to, the movement in literature, symbolism in art represents an outgrowth of the darker, gothic side of Romanticism, but where Romanticism was impetuous and rebellious, symbolist art was static and hieratic.

Symbolism was largely a reaction against naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic movements which attempted to capture reality in its gritty particularity, and to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. These movements invited a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, and dreams, the path to symbolism began with that reaction. Some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before moving in the direction of symbolism, for Huysmans, this change reflected his awakening interest in religion and spirituality. On the other hand, certain of the characteristic subjects of the decadents reflect naturalist interest in sexuality and sordid subjects, but in their case this was mixed with a stiff dose of Byronic Romanticism and the world-weariness characteristic of the fin de siecle.

Symbolism in literature is distinct from symbolism in art although the two overlapped on a number of points. In painting, symbolism was a continuation of some mystical tendencies in the Romantic tradition, which included such artists as Caspar David Friedrich, Fernand Khnopff and John Henry Fuseli and it was even more closely aligned with the self-consciously dark and private decadent movement.

There were several rather dissimilar groups of symbolist painters and visual artists, which included Gustave Moreau, Gustav Klimt, Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, Odilon Redon, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edvard Munch, Felicien Rops, and Jan Toorop. Symbolism in painting had an even larger geographical reach than symbolism in poetry, reaching Mikhail Vrubel, Nicholas Roerich, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Martiros Saryan, Mikhail Nesterov, Leon Bakst in Russia, as well as Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Elihu Vedder, Remedios Varo, Morris Graves, David Chetlahe Paladin, and Elle Nicolai in the United States. Auguste Rodin is sometimes considered a symbolist in sculpture.

The symbolist painters mined mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul, seeking evocative paintings that brought to mind a static world of silence. The symbols used in symbolism are not the familiar emblems of mainstream iconography but intensely personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references. More a philosophy than an actual style of art, symbolism in painting influenced the contemporary Art Nouveau movement and Les Nabis. In their exploration of dreamlike subjects, symbolist painters are found across centuries and cultures, as they are still today, Bernard Delvaille has described Rene Magritte's surrealism as "Symbolism plus Freud".

In the English-speaking world, the closest counterpart to symbolism was aestheticism. The pre-Raphaelites were contemporaries of the earlier symbolists, and have much in common with them. Symbolism had a significant influence on modernism, and its traces can be seen in the work of many modernist artists, including T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Conrad Aiken, Hart Crane, and William Butler Yeats in the anglophone tradition and Ruben Dario in Hispanic letters. The early poems of Guillaume Apollinaire have strong affinities with symbolism.

The cover to Aleksandr Blok's 1909 book, Theatre. Konstantin Somov's illustrations for the Russian symbolist poet display the continuity between symbolism and Art Nouveau artists such as Aubrey Beardsley.

In Romania, symbolists directly influenced by French poetry first gained influence in the 1880s, when Alexandru Macedonski reunited a group of young poets around his magazine Literatorul. Polemicizing with the established Junimea and overshadowed by the influence of Mihai Eminescu, symbolism was recovered as an inspiration during and after the 1910s, when it was voiced in the works of Tudor Arghezi, Ion Minulescu, George Bacovia, Ion Barbu, Mateiu Caragiale and Tudor Vianu, and held in esteem by the modernist magazine Sburatorul.

The symbolist painters were an important influence on expressionism and surrealism in painting, two movements which descend directly from symbolism proper. The harlequins, paupers, and clowns of Pablo Picasso's "Blue Period" show the influence of symbolism, and especially of Puvis de Chavannes. In Belgium, symbolism penetrated so deeply that it came to be thought of as a national style: the static strangeness of painters like Rene Magritte can be seen as a direct continuation of symbolism. The work of some symbolist visual artists, such as Jan Toorop, directly impacted the curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau.

Many early motion pictures also employ symbolist visual imagery and themes in their staging, set designs, and imagery. The films of German expressionism owe a great deal to symbolist imagery. The virginal "good girls" seen in the films of D. W. Griffith, and the silent movie "bad girls" portrayed by Theda Bara, both show the continuing influence of symbolism, as do the Babylonian scenes from Griffith's Intolerance. Symbolist imagery lived on longest in horror film: as late as 1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr showed the obvious influence of symbolist imagery, parts of the film resemble tableau vivant re-creations of the early paintings of Edvard Munch.

Read more
Page