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Publication Title | Form and the Evocation of Feeling

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Form and the Evocation of Feeling

The artists participating in the subjectivist movements of about may be grouped together only because they all rejected the ceptions ofart that had prevailed for the preceding generation. It is on this basis only that they may be discussed together; stylistically, they varied widely. Following the lead of the advanced poets, they turned away__from the exterior world and inward to their own their

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Although they often employed traditional religious or literary subjects in their painting, they declared that its feeling qualities were derived more from colors and forms than from the subject chosen. The movement, therefore, was a result of new freedoms made possible by throwing off the obligation to "represent" the tangible world, and of new stimuli gained from an exploration of the subjective world. The new freedom and stimuli also allowed the range of ideas on what constituted proEe£_subject m;!.tter for painting to be greatly_s:,x:jμUl.ded. They stimulated some of the more vigorous painters to create new formal characteristics, or even a new style, to convey better the more intangible qualities of the new subjectivist themes o f painting.

Paul Gauguin or Emile Bernard, A Nightmare (portraits ofEmile Schujfenecker, Bernard and Gauguin), ca. r888, crayon.

The movement was first heralded for the poets in the Symbolist Manifesto (1886) by Jean (1856-1910). Moreas, rejecting the naturalism of Emile Zola and the writers of the previous generation, proclaimedthat"opposedto'teaching,declamation,falsesensibility, objective description,' symbolic poetry seeks to clothe the Idea in a per- ceptible form...." The Symbolist poets, grouped about Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898), developed theories of art which were to provide an ideological background for the thoughts of many of the artists. Their

transformed into an obsessive concern with the intimate, private world ofthe selfthat led to a rejection of the exterior world. The poets took inspiration in this attitude from

Itheories centered in a rejection of the meticulously described in Zola's "scientifically"

a relative value; it is a kind ofnourishment that the imagination must digest l and t-;;ilsform." Baudelaire's theory of "correspondence," stated in the \L'. poem "Correspondence?.. of 1857, was also deeply influential on the poets and painters. It was, briefly, that a work of art was to be so expressive of basic feelings and so evocative of ideas and emotion that it would rise to a









They believed that the greatest reality the the imagination and fantasy. These attitudes of the new subjective movement had been expressed a little earlier by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) in his Art poetique (1882) and by J.-K. Huysmans (1848-1907) in A Rebours (1884). Taking their inspiration from Romanticism and in particular from the poet Charles Baudelaire, these writers found life only in the cultivation of their own feelings and sensations. Baudelaire's Culte de revived; his

concern with individuality of

Baudelaire'sconvictionthat'!_hewholeofthe universeisonlya gQrehouse ofimages and signs to which the imagination assigns a place and

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