Thursday, April 9th, 2015...8:27 am

Symbolists and Decadents

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Symbolists and DecadentsMany volumes in the Santo Domingo Collection are about fine art, some exploring the limits of social acceptability whereas others recount more commonly seen art.  Symbolists and Decadents by John Christian gives an interesting and thorough examination of the art movement of symbolism.  In the introduction Christian explains symbolism in art, stating “The term symbolist and decadent art is virtually impossible to define, so different in temperament, scope and achievement were the artists concerned.  The only real common denominator was an approach to subject matter, a belief that a picture is neither simply an arrangement of lines and colours, nor a transcript from nature, but that behind a picture lies another order of meaning.”  With this definition in mind, he explores several famous artists ranging from Odilon Redon to Paul Gauguin to Pablo Picasso.

Orpheus by Odilon Redon

Orpheus by Odilon Redon

The Mill by Edward Burne-Jones

The Mill by Edward Burne-Jones

Each painting is accompanied by a short paragraph of description and explanation about the artist and why the piece has been included in this collection.  Christian does not limit himself to one physical collection but references paintings held in a variety of museums and galleries.  The explanations are short and easy to read, there is no need to be an art historian yourself to enjoy this book.  The extensive introduction places the movement in historical context while highlighting some of the more famous artists involved.  Symbolists and Decadents is available in Widener Library’s collection.

For those interested, John Christian is also a renowned Edward Burne-Jones scholar and his book on the artist, Edward Burne-Jones : the hidden humorist, is available at the Fine Arts Library.

Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

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