The Symbolist Movement: Its Origins and Its Consequences

April 25 - 28, 2012 | Allerton Park | Monticello, Illinois

Beatrice, Odilon Redon
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In Memory of Dr. Caryl Moy
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Mystery, Odilon Redon


The purpose of the conference is to explore the origins of Symbolism, a variety of Symbolist manifestations in art, literature, music and philosophy, its consequences in art and literature, and to understand how ideas moved from one European country to another.

European Symbolism--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--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, in literature, art, and music; and in Russia, in art, literature, music, and intellectual thought. 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, William Blake, and 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.

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Thanks to WebMuseum and its partners/contributors for allowing us to use the images by Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon

Orpheus, Gustave Moreau


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