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Home » Glossary » Symbolist Art

The Symbolist art movement emerged in Europe in the late 19th century, and was characterized by an emphasis on the use of symbols and allegory in art. Symbolist artists sought to express the inner world of the human psyche, and often used dreamlike and fantastical imagery to do so.

Symbolist art was often associated with literary and poetic movements, such as the French Symbolist poets, who sought to express the ineffable through the use of symbols and metaphors. Symbolist artists often drew on ancient myths and religious iconography, as well as their own personal experiences and emotions, to create highly personal and expressive works of art.

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Some of the most famous Symbolist artists include Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon, and Ferdinand Hodler. Moreau’s highly detailed and fantastical paintings often drew on mythological themes, while Redon’s works were characterized by their dreamlike and often unsettling images. Hodler’s paintings often explored themes of love, death, and spirituality, and were noted for their use of bold colors and strong geometric forms.

Symbolist art had a significant impact on modern and contemporary art, and influenced a wide range of artistic movements, from Surrealism to Expressionism. It remains an important and influential movement in the history of art, and continues to be celebrated for its highly personal and expressive approach to artistic expression.