Deets on The Symbolist Movement

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

The symbolist movement took place around 1885. Those who were part of the symbolist movement (which included painters and writers of all kinds), rejected realism and focused more on subjectivism.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Symbolist artists sought to express individual emotional experience through the subtle and suggestive use of highly symbolized language.”

The main focus of these artists was on the inner life of man. They rejected rigid forms in traditional art and poetry and instead chose to focus on presenting ideas through metaphor and images.

They felt that creating this way was the best form for an artist to express themselves above all else, even above knowledge.

This style of art is open to anyone, but I must warn the amount of effort it takes to complete a work of art in this manor requires a significant amount of sacrifice. Even to this day, the fight against rigid forms of tradition is a long and hard battle. Conformity is a sneaky fucker and the comfort found in tradition feels like a breath of fresh air.

So why make art in this manor? Because why else are we here other than to master ourselves?

Some Examples of Symbolist Art starting with my favorite,

The Drunken Boat



As I was going down impassive Rivers,

I no longer felt myself guided by haulers:

Yelping redskins had taken them as targets

And had nailed them naked to colored stakes.

I was indifferent to all crews,

The bearer of Flemish wheat or English cottons

When with my haulers this uproar stopped

The Rivers let me go where I wanted.

Into the furious lashing of the tides

More heedless than children’s brains the other winter

I ran! And loosened Peninsulas

Have not undergone a more triumphant hubbub

The storm blessed my sea vigils

Lighter than a cork I danced on the waves

That are called eternal rollers of victims,

Ten nights, without missing the stupid eye of the lighthouses!

…Read More

Odilon Redon

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Odilon Redon Flowers 1909
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Odilon Redon Chariots of Apollo c. 1910

See more…

Paul Gauguin

A quote from Paul Gauguin taken from Theories of Modern Art by Herschel B. Chipp

Color, From Diverses Choses

Color, being itself enigmatic in the sensations which it gives us, can logically be employed only enigmatically. One does not use color to draw but always to give the musical sensations which flow from itself, from its own nature, from its mysterious and enigmatic interior force.

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Paul Gauguin Spirit of the Dead Watching 1892 Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York


Book, Theories of Modern Art, Herschel B. Chipp

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A writer and sensitive realist who takes risks with the intention of progress

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