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Fleurs by Odile Redon.

Symbolism was an artistic movement that lasted from 1890 to 1900. They were a diverse group of artists often painting independently with varying artistic goals. Symbolism began in France and spread across Europe and America. It was a forerunner of Surrealism, Expressionism and Abstraction. discarding appearances for images of fantasy. Prominent symbolist artists were Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898), Gustave Moreau (1826–1898; very free and colorful in his works), Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), Odile Redon, Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847- 1917), and Gustav Klimt. Some created imaginary themes, mysterious figures, monstrous, creatures from biblical stories and Greek mythology.

Symbolist painters believed that art should reflect an emotion or idea rather than represent the natural world in the objective, quasi-scientific manner embodied by Realism and Impressionism... Their almost universal preference for broad strokes of unmodulated color and flat, often abstract forms was inspired by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, who created greatly simplified forms in order to clearly express abstract ideas. His muted palette and decorative treatment of forms made a considerable impact on a new generation of artists, most notably Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso. [1]

Albert Ryder, The Waste of Waters is Their Field, early 1880s .

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1940, Latin American Symbolism.

Contemporary symbolist painters include: Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo in Mexico, Elihu Vedder, Morris Graves and David Chetlahe Paladin in the United States, and Elena Gorokhova in Russia.

See also

Gustave Moreau, Europa and the Bull, ca. 1869.