Item description for Symbolism (Big Art S.) by Gilles Neret Michael Gibson...
A key movement in modern art "To clothe the idea in perceptible form," proposed the poet Jean Moras in his 1886 Manifesto of Symbolism. It was in France and Belgium, the cradles of literary Symbolism, that Symbolist painting was born. It plunged headlong into the cultural space opened up by the poetry of Baudelaire and Mallarm and by the operas of Wagner. Symbolist painters sought not to represent appearances but to express "the Idea," and the imaginary therefore plays an important part in their work. "Dream" was their credo; they execrated, with a fanatical hatred, impressionism, realism, naturalism, and the scientistic. The main principle of Symbolism, that of "correspondences," was to attain harmony between all the different arts, or even to realise the total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk) that Wagner had dreamt of creating. What we rediscover today, after a period of neglect, is this: Symbolist painting is essential to our understanding of modern art, not only because it spread across the world like wildfire, creating disciples from Russia to the United States, from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean, but because it was the source of a series of mutations without which modern art would not be what it is.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 12.2" Width: 9.84" Height: 0.98" Weight: 3.75 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2006
ISBN 3822850322 ISBN13 9783822850329
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modern mystics Jun 1, 2006
Modern Art has often been understood as a progression from (somewhere, roughly around) the slashing strokes of Frans Hals, to the atmospheres of Turner and Monet, to the Fauves, to Matisse's dissolution of perspective, exacerbated by the Cubists, and ultimately to the abstract expressionists, with Dada as the inflection point to complete and utter nihilism. Towering, arbitrary, disassociative works, archly typified by Barnett Newmann, were the logical conclusion of that reduction.
Compared to that march of 'progress', Symbolism might seem recidivist or quaint at first sight, for its naturalism and pagan spirituality. Symbolism, Michael Gibson explains, is related in part to the Arts and Crafts movement, but also to Pre-Raphaelism, to the last vestiges of Catholicism in rural France, Art Nouveau, and mysticism, with a home in the music of the late Romantics.
And yet even with its emphasis on natural beauty and radiance, the disassociation is already evident in images of Ophelia, cemeteries, and abandoned idylls. People can't interact and are reduced to the decorative plane. The irony was that even in naturalism and escapism, artists were bumping up against issues of disassociation, like other currents of Modern Art.
To my mind, the Symbolist aesthetic finds its way into the late 20th century through rock music. This too was an art of long hair, physical beauty, and fantasy. For reviving this Symbolic/Romantic aesthetic and celebrating it with a book, Michael Gibson has contributed something valuable to art historiography.