Van Gogh to Kandinsky | Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880-1910

  • 14th July − 14th October 2012 | Scottish National Gallery | £10 (£7)

Moods of Nature

Symbolist artists rejected the prevailing style of Naturalism, which sought to replicate the material world from a rationalist point of view. In contrast, the Symbolists expressed a world beyond superficial appearances and used subjects and motifs to create underlying meanings.

The landscape also aided artists to articulate nationalist concerns. By carefully selecting scenes that had special national significance, artists were able to promote their homeland or suggest the notion of a waning culture. The Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, for example, drew on the mythology and imagery of his native country to assert Finnish independence from Russia.

Landscape painting offered artists the chance to fuse their own concerns with those of a wider public. Though individualism and expression lie at the heart of Symbolist art, the placing of events in a specific setting and the use of local attributes provided viewers with recognisable imagery and articulated the broader issues of the age.

Next: Dreams and Visions

 

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