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Symbolist movement

Related: Aesthetic movement (UK) - art - Art Nouveau - art for art's sake - Decadent movement (FR) - fin de siécle - literature

Symbolism refers to a late-19th-century French and Belgian movement in poetry and other arts.

French Symbolism was in large part a reaction against Naturalism and Realism, movements which attempted to capture reality in its particularity. Although the Symbolist manifesto wasn't published until 1886, the literary movement has been said by some to begin with the influential series of poems Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire; work by poets such as Gérard de Nerval and Arthur Rimbaud were also highly significant in this respect. Symbolism represents an outgrowth of the more gothic and darker sides of Romanticism; but where Romanticism was impetuous and rebellious, Symbolism was static and hieratic. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, whom Baudelaire translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images.

Theorists: Jean Moréas

Geography: Europe, but in particular Belgium and France.

Key era: 1880s - 1890s - 1900s

By medium: Symbolist art - Symbolist literature

Connoisseurs: Philippe Jullian

Artists: Félicien Rops - Max Klinger

Abandoned City (1908) - Fernand Khnopff



Cult of the diva

Salome was vital to Moreau and all Symbolists because she represented to them the ultimate castrating female. Moreover, her story has clear hints of male Oedipal anxieties, and even sadomasochism. Salome became a metaphor for the new man troubled by his gender role.

Symbolist artists tended to be fastidious aesthetes, dandies, reclusive hermits, or mystics, and they were frequently attracted to the priesthood. Most were what we would now classify as homosexual or bisexual; they were certainly not traditionally heterosexual.

They were, however, obsessed with the female muse in her various guises. Figures such as Eve, Lilith, Judith, Medusa, Pandora, and Jezebel recur in their works, usually as wicked divas. Whereas in Baroque art, female figures tend to be the victims of male cruelty and sexual assault, in Symbolist art men are more often sexual victims. --http://www.glbtq.com/arts/symbolists.html [May 2004]

Symbolism -- Critical Blasts and Scandals

--http://www.boards.greaterthelema.org/viewtopic.php?pid=132 [Sept 2004]
Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal.
Edouard Manet, Dejeuner sur l'herbe, Salon des Refuses.
James M. Whistler, The White Girl, Salon des Refuses.
Edouard Manet, Olympia, shown at Salon.
Exhumation of Elizabeth Siddall to retrieve poems by D.G. Rossetti (she died of an overdose in 1862).
"Robert Buchanan" (pseudonym for Thomas Maitland), published "The Fleshly School of Poetry," an attack on the Pre- Raphaelites and especially D.G. Rosseti.
First Impressionist Show held in Nadar's studio in Paris.
Whistler vs. Ruskin Trial in London.
Hans Jaeger, Christiania-Bohemia, book immediately censored in Norway; prison term for Jaeger.
Christian Krohg, Albertine; book censored. Krohg exhibited painting on the theme in 1887.
Last Impressionist show.
Emile Zola, L'Oeuvre; alienates Cezanne, Monet.
James Ensor, The Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1889; painting rejected by Les XX.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Case of Wagner.
Max Nordau, Degeneration.
Edvard Munch exhibits at the Verein Berliner Kunstler; show closed by authorities.
Oscar Wilde trial.
Vienna Secession founded.
Gustav Klimt's murals for the University of Vienna rejected. --http://www.boards.greaterthelema.org/viewtopic.php?pid=132 [Sept 2004]

Symbolism and Art Nouveau -- A Brief Chronology

--http://www.boards.greaterthelema.org/viewtopic.php?pid=132 [Sept 2004]

Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal; poetry.
Gustave Moreau, Oedipus and the Sphinx; painting.
Franco-Prussian War.
Walter Pater, The Renaissance; criticism.
Gustave Moreau, Salome; painting.
Stephane Mallarme, "L'Apres midi d'un faun;" poetry; also Mallarme's translation of Edgar A. Poe's "The Raven."
Les XX; first exhibition in Brussels.
Joris-Karl Huysmans, Au Rebours; novel. Antonio Gaudi begins the church of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (unfinished at his death in 1926); architecture.
Revue Wagnerienne founded in Paris; journal.
Le Symboliste founded in Paris; journal.
La Vogue founded in Paris; journal.
First performance in Paris of a complete work of Wagner: Lohengrin; music.
Paul Gauguin, The Vision After the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel; painting.
Paul Serusier, The Talisman; painted under Gauguin's direction. The Nabis founded.
Edouard Dujardin, Les Lauriers sont coupees; novel with first direct interior monologue.
La Plume founded in Paris; journal.
La Revue Blanche founded in Paris; journal.
Maurice Maeterlinck, Serres Chaudes; poetry.
Le Mercure de France founded in Paris; Alfred Vallette, ed.; journal. L'Ermitage founded in Paris; journal.
Maurice Maeterlinck, L'Intruse; drama. Ferdinand Hodler, Night; painting.
Puvis de Chavannes commissioned to murals for the new Boston Public Library.
Salons de la Rose+Croix established in Paris by Josephin Peladan; continued until 1897.
L'Art et l'Idee founded in Paris; journal.
Maurice Maeterlinck, Pelleas et Melisande; drama.
Victor Horta, Tassel house, Brussels; first Art Nouveau building.
Edvard Munch, The Scream; painting.
Jan Toorop, The Three Brides; paintng.
The Studio founded in London; journal.
Claude Debussy, "L'Apres midi d'un faun;" music.
Salon de l'Art Nouveau opened in Paris by S. Bing.
Pan founded in Berlin; journal.
Fernand Khnopff, The Caresses; painting.
Gustave Moreau, Jupiter and Semele; painting.
Kelmscott Chaucer published by William Morris; illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones; book.
Victor Horta begins the Maison du Peuple in Brussels (finished in 1898); architecture.
Jugend founded in Munich; journal.
Stephane Mallarme, "Un coup de des" published; poetry.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh begins the Glasgow School of Art (finished 1909); architecture.
Paul Gauguin, D'ou venons nous? Que sommes nous? Ou allons nous? painting.
Vienna Secession established; exhibition group.
Ver Sacrum founded in Vienna; journal for Vienna Secession.
Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement in Literature published; criticism.
International Exposition, Paris; art nouveau architecture.
Hector Guimard, Paris Metro stations; architecture.
Fernand Khnopff's house constructed in Brussels; architecture.
International Exposition, Turin; art nouveau architecture.
Claude Debussy, Pelleas et Melisande; music for Maeterlinck's drama.
Josef Hoffmann, Palais Stoclet, Brussels; architecture.
Fernand Khnopff elected to Belgian Academy.--http://www.boards.greaterthelema.org/viewtopic.php?pid=132 [Sept 2004]

Dreamers of Decadence: Symbolist Painters of the 1890s (1969) - Philippe Jullian

Dreamers of Decadence: Symbolist Painters of the 1890s (1969) - Philippe Jullian [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Original title: Esthètes et magiciens (1969)

My Amazon.com search found only two of this French author’s titles in print (his biographies of Trefusis and Wilde), and even Amazon.fr came up short. But there are used copies of most of his books on Abebooks.com. That’s good; he’s worth rediscovering. Jullian (1921-1978) was an artist, illustrator, novelist and art historian, but his real vocation seems to have been that of a collector (the title of his autobiography translates roughly as Second-Hand Goods). His illustrations for Proust, Balzac, Colette, Dickens and Henry James often place a forlorn or abstracted-looking figure in a sea of pictures, furniture, bric-a-brac, objets d’art, lamps, books, perfume bottles, hand mirrors, and occasionally a little decorative dog; some of the drawings in For Whom the Cloche Tolls dispense with the figure altogether. As a historian Jullian knew the value of objects (and people) from periods ignored or forgotten: he played a role in the revival of Art Nouveau in the 1960s. In Camp: The Lie That Tells the Truth, the British artist, writer and Jullian protégé Philip Core calls him “a last and lasting example of pre-war camp.” Even rarer, he is an example of a writer able to transform the irony, humor, sentimentality, disdain and insight of camp into a form of criticism and a tool for interpreting history. Certainly one of the pleasures of reading Jullian’s work is his fascination with the delicate line that separates, or fails to separate, high taste from kitsch. --http://torrible.blogspot.com/2005/02/philippe-jullian.html [Dec 2005]

See also: decadents - dream - Symbolist art

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