EXPRESSIONISM DREW from movements like Symbolism, Fauvism and Cubism. Fauvism like Symbolism marked a move away from Naturalism. While Fauvism followed a primitive style, Symbolism mined the mythic, mystic and dream world. Started in the late 19 century, Symbolism moves in the darker reaches of the Romantic Movement. In literature, Edgar Allen Poe's dark gothic style greatly influenced the movement.
The philosophy of Symbolism was all about expressing absolute truths by endowing objects with a symbolic meaning. In 1886, Jean Moreas published the Symbolist manifesto where he stated that Symbolism was hostile "to plain meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact descriptions." He wrote the goal was to "clothe the ideal in a perceptible form.
In this art scenes from nature, human activities and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial ideals."
In art, leading practitioners of Symbolism include Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon and William Blake. The poet created a whole mythic universe with tropes to represent an alternative world. The movement was a precursor to surrealism, Art Nouveau and Les Nabis - a group of Parisian Post-Impressionists, whose work greatly influenced graphic art.
Pablo Picasso's paintings during the Blue Period show the effects of Symbolism and Picasso is considered the founder of Cubism, which also influenced Expressionism - so there is a wonderfully interlinked circle of art for you!
The early black and white films of German expressionism owe of their set design and frames to Symbolism as do horror movies like Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr, which echoes the early paintings of Edvard Munch - and we come full a circle again!
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