Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857) by Charles Baudelaire. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire admired greatly and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images.
- I am an anarchist in politics and an impressionist in art as well as a symbolist in literature. Not that I understand what these terms mean, but I take them to be all merely synonyms of pessimist.
- In literature and in art, alike, this gloomy fashion of regarding Death has been characteristic of Christianity. Death has been painted as a skeleton grasping a scythe, a grinning skull, a threatening figure with terrible face and uplifted dart, a bony scarecrow shaking an hourglass - all that could alarm and repel has been gathered round this rightly-named King of Terrors.
- Comment voyez-vous cet arbre? Il est bien vert? Mettez donc du vert, le plus beau vert de votre palette; — et cette ombre, plutôt bleue? Ne craignez pas la peindre aussi bleue que possible.
- How do you see this tree? Is it really green? Use green, then, the most beautiful green on your palette. And that shadow, rather blue? Don't be afraid to paint it as blue as possible.
- Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
– Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,
Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.
- There are perfumes that are fresh like children's flesh,
sweet like oboes, green like meadows
– And others, corrupt, rich, and triumphant,
having the expansiveness of infinite things,
like amber, musc, benzoin, and incense,
which sing of the raptures of the soul and senses.
- Charles Baudelaire Correspondences
- There are perfumes that are fresh like children's flesh,
- Take the birds which you'll have noticed in so many of my recent paintings. I never thought them up, they just materialized of their own accord; they were born on the canvas... it is absurd to read any sort of symbolic significance into them.
- If a symbol should be discovered in a painting of mine, it was not my intention. It is a result I did not seek. It is something that may be found afterwards, and which can be interpreted according to taste.
- Human beings communicate through art with symbols that transcend the boundaries of time and culture.
- Richard Clar, in An Art-and-Technology Payload for the Space Shuttle
- The history of art cannot be properly understood without some reference to the history of science. In both we are studying the symbols by which man affirms his mental scheme, and these symbols, be they pictorial or mathematical, a fable or formula, will reflect the same changes.
- Sir Kenneth Clark, in Michael J. Gelb How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day (Google eBook), Random House LLC, 21 October 2009, p. 127
- Superficially insignificant or accidental looking detail [in art] may well carry the most important unconscious symbolism.
- Such compositions, line and color ideas, such wonders come into my mind and have stuck! – They will this time be dismissed only by being painted out.
- When you are going to paint a bamboo, you must first realize the thing completely in your mind. Then grasp the brush, fix your attention so that you see clearly what you wish to paint; start quickly, move the brush, follow straight what you see before you, as the buzzard swoops down when the hare jumps out. If you hesitate one moment, it is gone.
- Morris Graves, in Osvald Sirén Chinese painting: leading masters and principles, Volume 2, Hacker Art Books, 1974, p. 14
- The artists of Asia have spiritually realized form, rather than aesthetically invented or imitated form, and from them I have learned that art and nature are mind's Environment within which we can detect the essence of man's Being and Purpose, and from which we can draw clues to guide our journey from partial consciousness to full consciousness.
- Morris Graves, in Looking East: Brice Marden, Michael Mazur, Pat Steir, University of Washington Press, 01-Aug-2002, p. 19
- I paint to evoke a changing language of symbols, a language with which to remark upon the qualities of our mysterious capacities which direct us toward ultimate reality.
- Ainsi, dans cet art, les tableaux de la nature, les actions des humains, tous les phénomènes concrets ne sauraient se manifester eux-mêmes ; ce sont là des apparences sensibles destinées à représenter leurs affinités ésotériques avec des Idées primordiales.
- In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial Ideals.
- Jean Moréas "Le Manifeste du Symbolisme" (The Symbolist Manifesto) in Le Figaro, 18 September 1886: Translation in: Mara C. West (2007) Edvard Munch's "To the Forest": Nature as Medium and Metaphor. p. 36
- When seen as a whole, art derives from a person’s desire to communicate himself to another. I do not believe in an art which is not forced into existence by a human being’s desire to open his heart. All art, literature, and music must be born in your heart’s blood. Art is your heart’s blood.
- Edvard Munch Manuscript (1891), quoted in Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism (2002) by Shelley Wood Cordulack
- The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
- A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu : voyelles. . .
- A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels. . .
- Arthur Rimbaud Voyelles
- Between the image of the Imagist and the 'symbol' of the Symbolists there is a difference only of precision'