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Related: aestheticism - aesthetics - art - art for art's sake - decadence (art movement) - symbolism (art movement) -
People: Walter Pater - Oscar Wilde
The Aesthetic movement is a loosely defined movement in art and literature in later nineteenth century Britain. Generally speaking, it represents the same tendencies that the Symbolist movement or Decadent movement stood for in France, and may be considered the English branch of the same movement. It had Romantic roots. It took place in the late Victorian period from around 1868 to 1901, and is generally considered to have ended with the trial of Oscar Wilde. [Jun 2006]
Lady Lilith (1868) - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
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The aesthetic movementThe Aesthetic movement is a loosely defined movement in art and literature in later nineteenth century Britain. Generally speaking, it represents the same tendencies that Symbolism or Decadence stood for in France, and may be considered the English branch of the same movement. It belongs to the anti-Victorian reaction and had post-Romantic roots. It took place in the late Victorian period from around 1868 to 1901, and is generally considered to have ended with the trial of Oscar Wilde.
The English decadent writers were deeply influenced by Walter Pater and his essays published in 1867-1868, in which he stated that life had to be lived intensely, following an ideal of beauty. Decadent writers used the slogan, coined by the philosopher Victor Cousin and promoted by Théophile Gautier in France, "Art for Art's Sake" (L'art pour l'art) and asserted that there was no connection between art and morality.
The artists and writers of the Aesthetic Movement tended to hold that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages. As a consequence they did not accept John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold's utilitarian conception of art as something moral, didactic, useful. Instead they believed that Art does not have any didactic purpose, it need only be beautiful. The Aesthetes developed the cult of beauty which they considered the basic factor in art. Life should copy Art, they asserted in a paradox. The main characteristics of the movement were: suggestion rather than statement, sensuality, massive use of symbols, synaesthetic effects, that is correspondence between words, colours and music.
The Aestheticism had its forerunners in John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and among the Pre-Raphaelites. In Britain the best representatives were Oscar Wilde and Algernon Charles Swinburne, both influenced by the French Symbolists. Artists associated with the Aesthetic Movement include James McNeill Whistler and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Writers include Oscar Wilde. The movement had an influence on interior design. 'Aesthetic' interiors were characterised by the use of such things as peacock feathers and blue-and-white china. This aspect of the movement was satirised in Punch magazine, and in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta "Patience". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetic_movement [Jun 2004]
At once a theory of art and an approach to living, aestheticism emphasizes the absolute autonomy of works of art, their total preeminence over other aspects of life, and their independence of moral and social conditions. The aestheticist movement took on extraordinary force at the end of the nineteenth century, primarily in France and England but also in Italy, Germany, and to a lesser extent, the United States.
In histories of the movement, aestheticism is often conflated with the French l'art pour l'art movement, literary decadence, and fin-de-siècle dandyism. Historically, it has been linked to homosexuality, not only because of the implications of its principles, but also because of the personal sexual tastes of some of its key adherents.
Among its more important propagandists were, in France, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, J. K. Huysmans, Paul Verlaine, Count Robert de Montesquiou, Claude Debussy, Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, Jean Cocteau, and Marcel Proust and, in England, Algernon Swinburne, George Moore, Walter Pater, Lionel Johnson, Arthur Symons, William Butler Yeats, James McNiell Whistler, John Addington Symonds, Edmund Gosse, and Oscar Wilde, as well as members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle of painters and such Bloomsbury figures as the art critic Roger Fry. --http://www.glbtq.com/literature/aestheticism.html [Jun 2004]
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