Is Symbolism A Dying Art?

blackbird symbol

Looking at the movements that really changed the face of the world of art, you simply cannot deny the major impact that symbolism had. Started as a movement in the late nineteenth century, this branch of the art originates in the form of poetry throughout Belgium, Russia and France. The term symbolism itself comes from the words symbol and morphs. These mean an object that is cut in half bringing about a sign of recognition as the carriers work to reassemble the two halves.


A Reaction to Realism and Naturalism

Symbolism in the art world is a major reaction to both realism and naturalism. These were anti-idealistic styles brought forth as an attempt to represent reality. These styles also aim to bring on the ordinary and humble over what was ideal. This reaction was formed in favour of dreams, the imagination and spirituality. There were some writers that actually became symbolists after they were naturalists. As a matter of fact, one of the most colourful promoters of symbolism around Paris was Josephin Peladan. He was an occultist as well as a critic of art and literature.


A Quest for the Absolute Truth

The actual rise in symbolism took place during a period where there were a lot of individuals who were beginning to question the positivism movement. At that time, symbolists believed that nature and the world around us had no real value. The role it played is no other than bringing about the absolute or the spiritual. Colours and shapes could almost be looked upon as letters of the alphabet in the eyes of a symbolist. Thus, the role of this artist would be to take these “letters” and combine them into words.


Symbolism in Early Motion Pictures

Symbolism moved on to show that a lot of the early motion pictures worked to employ all sorts of visual imagery. These visual imageries were symbolic in nature when it came to their set designs and staging. The 1932 horror film entitled Vampyr that was created by Carl Theordor Dreyer was heavily influenced by a symbolist imagery. Most of the parts of the film were made to resemble portions of early paintings done by an artist named Edvard Munch.


The Answer

It would seem to most people that the art of symbolism is truly dying. However, if you look closely at a lot of the paintings, theatre productions and films that we have today, you will notice a slight homage being paid. Even in memes that went viral on the internet through social media, you will notice that there are slight references. Either consciously or subconsciously, they point out to the many years of symbolism in the world of art.

To answer the question if symbolism as an art is dying, simply take a look at where the main pieces of symbolism in the art world dropped off. With such an impact on the literary and art world, the ideals which symbolism is based upon will never ever die.