Dreamers of Decadence: Symbolist Painters of the 1890s

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9780275742805: Dreamers of Decadence: Symbolist Painters of the 1890s

There have been few movements in the history of Western art as strange as that of the Decadents of the last quarter of the 19th Century. While public attention was preoccupied with the Impressionists, many painters were reacting in a totally different...and more imaginative way...to the grim horrors of the new industrial society around them. The roots of the Decadents, as these artists came to call themselves, were to be found in the poetic visions of the English Pre-Raphaelites of the 1850s. Their first great Continental exponent was a brilliant and neglected painter of the fantastic, Gustave Moreau; their most obvious expression was 'Art Nouveau,' a style closely interwoven with sinuous and half-unconscious eroticism.

Philippe Julian takes the reader on a conducted tour through the bizarre symbolism of this half-forgotten world, introducing him to a large number of writers and artists. Many of these artists...Moreau; Toorop, the brilliant half-Balinese, half-Dutch painter and draftsman; the French Odilon Redon, the great master of Symbolist art; the Viennese Klimt; and the Belgian Khnopff...have been known for some time to a few enthusiasts; In this lively study their inventiveness and skill are explored afresh, and their fantastic imaginings and weird symbolism exposed to a sometimes ironic light.

Proud of their romantic appearance, extravagant habits, and outrageous conduct, the artists of the 'mauve nineties' drew on a wide range of writers for their ideas, including not only Poe, Baudelaire, Swinburne, and Wilde, but also less well-known and stranger poets. The book ends with a short anthology of Symbolist themes taken from these writers, and 149 pictures drawn from museums and collection in the Europe and the U.S.

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Text: English, French (translation)

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Jullian, Philippe
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Philippe Jullian
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Philippe Jullian; Robert Baldick [Translator]
Published by Praeger Publishers (1974)
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