Saturday, January 08, 2011


I was reviewing a period of art named Symbolist art. The majority of this work is heavily narrative. Some of the work seems to be the source inspiration to a lot of high school and some undergraduate painting. However, by now these works are very clichés. I can see how some of this work is more less in the minor artists canon. Although a few are in the major category. I categorize them in major and minor, because art historians seem to do the same. The big problem is that there are to many artists and to little room for every artist to fit in a general survey book. The artists in the general survey book usually are the only artists that the general public has exposure. Thus historians have to pick and choose the artists that best represent their genre.
Well, I digress; a lot of the Symbolist art I viewed had all the graces of a chainsaw. I can see why many of the artists were overshadowed by the Realist, other Neo-Classical, other Expressionism and other Impressionist. I think the Symbolist category is more of a sub-category, because these artists relied upon the styles of other art movements. Symbolist really were trying to bring extra content to the work, but often times this only made the work too heavy or too obvious what the artist was doing. I think much of the Symbolist work sucked out all the mystery and ambiguity. Here is a list of these artists.

George Frederic Watts (1817–1904), Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898), Gustave Moreau (1826–1898), Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901), Henri Fantin-Latour (1836–1904), Odilon Redon (1840–1916), John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), Jacek Malczewski (1854–1929), Félicien Rops (1855–1898), Mikhail Vrubel (1856–1910), Fernand Khnopff (1858–1921), Franz Stuck (1863–1928), Leon Spilliaert (1882–1946), Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918), Jan Toorop (1858–1928), Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), Edvard Munch (1863–1944), Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865–1953), Jean Delville (1867–1953), Konstantin Bogaevsky (1872–1943), Hugo Simberg (1873–1917), Mikalojus Čiurlionis (1875–1911), Eliseu Visconti (1866–1944), Emile Bernard (1868–1941), Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), Ze'ev Raban (1890–1970)


Troy Camplin said...

You should come and check out this totally awesome new blog on economic and literature. Sometimes other arts are talked about too! It's great!!!


Chad Wooters said...

Much of today's "Visionary" art (Alex Grey et al) shares with the Symbolists those overworked and burdened qualities. At the same time I also want my word to carry more meaning. The problem seems to be how to allow the image to stand on its own without referencing some pre-existing narrative.

Troy Camplin said...

Is it possible to not have reference to an outside narrative? Is there anything humans do or make that is or could be made or done without reference to an outside narrative? Not if it's human. Not if it's going to be understood or understandible.

Todd Camplin said...

I like narrative, but who wants to read a novel or short story that you know how it is going to end? My problem with symbolist art is that much of it reads to easily. When I wrote that it is 'to narrative,' I guess I meant that the narrative is like a one liner joke rather than a rich novelistic story telling that one can peel back the layers of meaning.