The Symbolist art movement of the late nineteenth century forms an important bridge between Impressionism and Modernism. But because Symbolism, more than the two movements it links, emphasizes ideas over objects and events, it has suffered from vague and conflicting definitions. In "Symbolist Art in Context", Michelle Facos offers a clearly written, comprehensive, and accessible description of this challenging subject. Reaching back into Romanticism for Symbolism's origins, Facos argues that Symbolism enabled artists (including Munch and Gauguin) to confront an increasingly uncertain and complex world - one to which pessimists responded with themes of decadence and degeneration and optimists with idealism and reform.
Michelle Facos is Associate Professor of Art History at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Painting in the 1890s (UC Press) and coedited (with Sharon Hirsch) Art and the National Identity at the Turn of the Century.
Acknowledgments Introduction: What Is Symbolist Art? 1 Beginnings 2 Precursors 3 Decadence and Degeneration 4 Idealism, Religion, and Reform 5 Contested Gender 6 National Romanticism 7 Promoting Symbolist Art 8 Symbolist Currents in the Twentieth Century Notes Select Bibliography List of Illustrations Index