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Symbolist Movement


Examples of Symbolist paintings (click to enlarge)
Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon were the greatest painters of the Symbolist movement. The movement was an artistic uprising opposed to Naturalism, Realism and Impressionism. Moreau stated "Without free will, art remains bound by the chains imposed by the clergy. Imagination must be permitted to take wing and fly as the stout pigeon in the park flutters in the garden of magnificence and finally lunacy."

Jean Moreas's Symbolist Manifesto, published in Le Figaro in 1886, stated that realism was obsolete and declared that symbolism was the model to be treasured hence forth. The basic philosophy of this aesthetic movement was a belief that the passing tangible world is not true reality, but a reflection of the unseen Absolute. Odilon Redon asserted "My drawings inspire and are not to be defined. They determine nothing. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous world of the undetermined. They are a kind of metaphor."
The writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and Joris Karl Huysmans, and the Gothic and Romanticism style were major influences. Painters based their imagery on magical, sacred and occasionally mythological themes. 

Symbolist Writers: Joris-Karl Huysmans, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot, Renée Vivien, William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Albert Samain, Rémy de Gourmont

A List of the Greatest Symbolist Painters 

Man Ray American 1890-1976

Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

Edvard Munch Norwegian, 1863-1944

Gustave Moreau French  1826-1898

William Blake British, 1757-1827

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with Symbolist Painting -  emotional effects, emotional experience, avant-garde, nineteenth-century, Les Fleurs du mal, Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, psychological depths, symbolic colors, exaggerated imagery, human psyche, exaggeration, primitivism, transparent colors, self-expression, expression intensity,  psychological, symbolic themes, universal subject matter, industrial modern age, individual genius, sense of otherness, otherworldly

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