The organization ALMSD (Art, Literature and Music in Symbolism and Decadence) is a follow up to the three day international interdisciplinary conference Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences which took place in April 2009 at Allerton Park, a retreat center of the University of Illinois. The conference was organized by Rosina Neginsky, a professor of interdisciplianry studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield and who is now a president of ALMSD. The purpose of ALMSD is to promote art, literature and music from late 19th century to early 20th century in European culture. In addition, the organization is interested in exploring the origins of the Symbolist movement – such as revival and the reinterpretation of classical ideas, of art, literature and music of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance – and of the consequences of the Symbolist movement – the connection between Symbolism and subsequent movements, like Surrealism. As an interdisciplinary international organization, its purpose is to demonstrate the philosophical connection between arts in the latter part of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century in different countries that were affected by Symbolist ideas and to examine how that connection manifested itself in different artistic forms – visual arts, literature and music. The organization also strives to encourage and to facilitate the exchange of ideas between scholars working in the areas mentioned above.
The organization will publish an annual newsletter in Acrobat – pdf format which will be available on the ALMSD website. Members will be invited to submit news items and short articles for publication to the editor of the newsletter by February, 15 of each year. We hope to be able to feature one article on a different Symbolist topic in each newsletter. The organization will sponsor a conference every fours years at the Allerton Conference center or at other international locations. We hope that the organization will be affiliated with College Art Association, with Modern Languages and American Comparative Literature organizations to increase the number of venues available to members.
What is the Symbolist Movement?
European Symbolism was a complex movement that started in England with the English Pre-Raphaelites, moved to France, back to England, to manifest itself in the movement of the Aesthetes, and then occupied an important place in Russian culture. Symbolism – as a movement – encompassed literature, art, music, and intellectual thought. Independently of the country, Symbolism was based on a certain world view or even philosophy that expressed itself in different genres in different countries. In England, this movement was most notable in painting and poetry; in France and in Russia, in literature, art, and music. The ways that individuals expressed Symbolist ideas often varied across national boundaries, even within a common medium.
Many artists and scholars consider that the Symbolist movement had precursors among early Renaissance painters, English eighteenth century mystics, such as William Blake, early romantic poets such as Theophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire in France, and Keats and Shelley in England. Symbolism is likely the basis for artistic and intellectual movements that followed it. Expressionism, Surrealism and Abstract art have significant elements in common with Symbolism, while Acmeism and Constructivism can be seen as reactions to Symbolism.
Rosina Neginsky expresses her special gratitude to the Associate Provost for Technology, Farokh Eslahi at the University of Illinois at Springfield, and his excellent Information Technology Services team; to Don Morris, Associate Professor of Accounting at the University of Illinois at Springfield and to Liana De Girolami Cheney, Professor of Art History at UMASS Lowell, USA.
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