Fernand Khnopff

June 21, 2011 at 11:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Fernand Khnopff (1858 – 1921) was a Belgian Symbolist artist whose distinctive style would win him great success during his lifetime, and influenced other artists in the movement, most notably Gustav Klimt. While Realism was the most advanced style in Belgium at the start of his career, it wasn’t enough for Khnopff: Jeffery Howe states that he ‘insisted that art must suggest the essential mystery behind the visible facts and facades.’ His work is full of allegorical imagery and mystical allusions. He almost exclusively used his sister Marguerite as his model, and his relationship with her was intense and jealous. In many of his paintings of her, he accentuates her jawline to create a more androgynous appearance, blurring the boundaries between gender, creating a fluid sexuality. There’s an eeriness to his work, and a sense of isolation that is at once compelling and discomforting.

I Close the Door Upon Myself

I Close the Door Upon Myself

 

Caress of the Sphinx

Caress of the Sphinx

 

Sleeping Medusa

Sleeping Medusa

 

Memories

Memories

 

Head of a Woman

Head of a Woman

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Alphonse Osbert

February 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Alphonse Osbert (1857-1939) was a French Symbolist who exhibited at the Rose+Croix salons (founded in 1892 by Josephin Peladan with the intention of providing Symbolist art with ideological underpinnings). He was influenced by Pointillism, and his paintings have an ethereal, otherworldly quality to them, and I think his depiction of light is quite lovely.

 

The Muse at Sunrise

The Muse at Sunrise

 

 

Vision

Vision

 

 

Evening In Antiquity

Evening In Antiquity

 

 

Songs of the Night

Songs of the Night

 

 

The Mystery of the Night

The Mystery of the Night

 

 

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William Blake

September 29, 2010 at 8:13 am (Uncategorized) (, )

My first introduction to William Blake was through his poetry, but I’m going to talk about his paintings today. Blake started his career as an engraver, and was influenced by the art of Fuseli, whose interest in the darker side of the supernatural can be seen in Blake’s own work. He was deeply influenced by the mysticism of Swedenborg, and was a supporter of the free love movement, and was strongly opposed to the conventional Christianity of his day. He did not believe that love of Christ entailed self-denial, and spoke out against religious repression. He experienced regular religious visions, and his works of art regularly portrayed the things he witnessed in these states of delirium.

Blake did not attain a great deal of acclaim during his lifetime. His views were too controversial for popular taste, and many believed him to be insane, including William Wordsworth who observed that “there was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron or Walter Scott.” Blake’s art and poetry would later influence the works of Swinburne and Rossetti, and while he is before the time of Symbolism, his philosophies, and the profound mysticism of his art, place him as a significant forerunner of the movement.

Hecate

Jacob's Ladder

Death on a Pale Horse

The Great Red Dragon

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Gustav Klimt

July 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Klimt (1862 – 1918) is probably the best known of the Symbolist artists, and that’s partly why I’ve taken this long to mention him here as I’ve wanted to focus on the less famous contributors to the movement. As it is, I’ve attempted to put together a collection of Klimt’s work that perhaps isn’t so widely recognised.

portrait of Klimt

Gustav Klimt, 1908

Klimt became successful in his native Vienna, and was among the founding members of the ‘Vienna Succession’, a group of unconventional artists who mostly adhered to the school of Symbolism. Klimt’s most famous works are his highly stylised paintings from his ‘Golden Phase’, and the majority of his paintings depict erotic sensuality.

Idylle

Idylle

Junius

Junius

Mada Primavesi

Mada Primavesi

Tragedy

Tragedy

Mermaids

Mermaids

There’s a good resource for more Klimt images here.

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Jan Frans De Boever

June 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Special thanks go out to billyjane for introducing me to this wonderful artist!

Boever (1872 – 1949) was a Flemish Symbolist who produced some lovely illustrations to Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. He specialised in erotic portraits of women, almost always in macabre or bizarre settings. He was very successful until around 1935, when he went dramatically out of fashion, and was never able to achieve his former popularity. I’ve found a good website on him here offering a more extensive bibliography and gallery.

Butin

Sabbat

Sorcellerie

L'Irreparable - Les Fleurs do Mal

La Charogne - Les Fleurs du Mal

L'irremediable - Les Fleurs du Mal

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Evelyn de Morgan

May 11, 2010 at 12:58 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919) was technically a Pre-Raphealite artist, but the strong parallels between the Pre-Raphealites and the Symbolists merits her inclusion here. She is one of the few women who managed to make a name for herself in the movement, and there has¬† recently been an increase of interest in her work. She is remarkable for the sheer number of paintings she produced, which can be attributed to her fairly formidable work ethic. On the morning of her seventeenth birthday she wrote in her diary, “Art is eternal, but life is short…” “I will make up for it now, I have not a moment to lose.”

Dryad

Dryad

Field of the Slain

Field of the Slain

Hope in the Prison of Despair

Hope in the Prison of Despair

Aurora Triumphans

Aurora Triumphans

S.O.S

S.O.S

Angel of Death

Angel of Death

As a side note, I’m sorry I’m not posting as often as I used to. I’m currently studying for a Masters Degree, and I have a stupid amount of work on at the moment! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do more here once May is over!

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Jan Toorop

April 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Jan Toorop (1858 – 1928) is probably one of the most distinctive of the Symbolist artists; his unusual, and slightly unsettling style is instantly recognisable. This could be explained by his childhood spent in Java – many of his figures are highly reminiscent of Javanese shadow theatre puppets. Based in the Netherlands, Toorop was introduced to Symbolism during a visit to Belgium, where he was inspired by the works of Jean Delville and Fernand Khnopff. Further information on the artist’s life can be found here.

A New Generation

A New Generation

This painting takes the unusual form of a testament of love to the artists infant daughter. Michael Gibson writes that ‘the child in the highchair is the daughter of the artist. She turns her back on the past (her mother, who carries withered flowers) and lifts her arms towards the luminous and mysterious world. Modernity is signified by the telegraph post and the rail.’

The Garden

The Vagabonds

This painting reminds me of the story of Christ’s last night in the garden with his disciples before his arrest.

Three Brides

Three Fiancees

Toorop stated that ‘the central fiancee evokes an inward, superior and beautiful desire… an ideal suffering… The fiancee on the left symbolises spiritual suffering. She is the mystic fiancee, her eyes wide with fear…” and the bride on the right with her ‘materialistic and profane expression… stands for the sensual world.’

Garden of Sorrows

Garden of Sorrows

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August Bromse

March 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

August Bromse (1873 – 1925) is an artist I have only recently discovered. He was a Czech artist who was strongly influenced by the Germanic Symbolists, most significantly Max Klinger. I’ve fallen in love with his macabre Girl and Death series. The critic Otto M. Urban wrote of it that:

“The series The Girl and-Death, which originated in Berlin in 1901-1902, echoes the relationship of August Bromse with the concert singer Eisa Sch√ľnemann (they had known each other since 1902 but did not marry until 1910 when he was already living in Prague and heading the print studio at the Prague Academy), as does the later Nietzsche series “The Whole Being is Burning Sorrow” (1903, awarded a prize 1905 at the Paris exhibition). “The Girl and Death” is a modern variant of the Dance of Death.”

In the Park

In the Park

By the Window

By the Window

Life Escaping

Life Escaping

An Old Song

An Old Song

Dance

Dance

I'm Coming

I'm Coming

The Lost Paradise

The Lost Paradise

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Hugo Simberg

March 24, 2010 at 1:13 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last updated – coursework has been eating my life for the past couple of weeks.

Anyway, I have my life back now, so I thought I’d bring you some work by the cheery Symbolist painter, Hugo Simberg (1873 – 1917). A Finnish artist, Simberg’s work is gloomy and macabre, his favourite subject being the supernatural. Death, whom the artist called ‘that poor devil’, plays a central role in his paintings – Simberg once wrote to his brother that he wanted to paint all that made one cry within oneself. He was also a very able photographer, and took many pictures of young boys, which explored the themes of burgeoning adolescence and the loss of innocence.

Garden of Death

Garden of Death

Wounded Angel

Wounded Angel

On the Stream of Life

On the Stream of Life

The Serpent

The Serpent

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Luis Ricardo Falero

February 15, 2010 at 12:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Luis Ricardo Falero (1851-1896) was a Spanish artist who specialised in paintings of sensual, voluptuous women, usually in an occult setting. His main fault is that he occasionally focusses too much on the sexyness of his female subjects, with the result that they end up looking a lot like pin-up models. At his best, however, he managed to capture the macabre eroticism of Decadence. He died in London aged just 45.

A Fairy Under Starry Skies

Balance of the Zodiac

Vision of Faust

Iris and Phebus

Berenice

The Wine of Tokai

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