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Decadent Art

Decadent art, that is a reaction against the middle class or the bourgeoisie model, started in the second half of the nineteenth century, developed in different ways and in different context, social and cultural: capitalism in economy which marks positivism in philosophy with Hegel, and naturalism in art. It developed in the university and intellectual psychol art, started in France with the intellectual Théophile Gautier. The movement reflected the sense of frustration and uncertainty of the artist and the reaction against the materialism, the restrictive moral code of the bourgeoisie and a respectable life and they need to redefine the role of the art. So these esthetic artist escaped into the isolation, into what Gotier defined “art for art’s sake” (their battle cry). They were against the vulgarity, monotony life of their time leading a scandalous behavior, an unconventional existence, pursuing or following sensation and excess, cultivating or developing art and beauty. It’s origins, in England can be traced back or found to the pre-refit brotherhood started by D.G. Rossetti. In the last quarter of the century the model of decadent for English artist and the young generation was Huwsmans Des Esseintess”, the hero of a Rebours , a novel of the French writer, Karl Huswmans, who disgusted by the vulgarity of the modern life, decided to live alone devoting to the cult of beauty, pleasure. So he retires in a home where he tries to build a world of absolute perfection in everything: stones, flowers furniture and pictures. It was followed by important artists such as: Wild and D’Annunzio. In England the most representative exponent of the esthetic movement was Walter Pater. He rejected religious faith and affirmed that art was the only means to stop time, filling each moment of life with intense experience, following all kinds of sensation. So the artist was seen as a copier, transcriber and interpreter not of the world but of the sense of it, because the art for him had a reference to the common life or nothing to be morale or to be didactic. He had great influence on the new writers generation for example Oscar Wild.

Dante Gabriele Rossetti, son of an exiled Italian patriot who transmitted his sons the love for art and Italian poetry, in 1848 found the pre-raphelite brotherhood together with the painters and intellectuals such as: Brown, Hunt and Millais. This new current can be divided in two periods: before Dante’s marriage and after it. It was born as a revolt against the new form of art obtained after the death of the Italian painter Rafael because it had lost it’s ties or link with nature. They aimed (or finalized to) at “the truth to art” which had to be achieved by the description of each detail in nature. They looked at the medieval art as a source of inspiration to which Rossetti added a gothic atmosphere of mystery inspired by the middle age; for this reason he wanted to link poetry, painting and social idealism. In 1860 he married Elizabeth Saddal who became the model of the group, started the second face of the movement which was characterized by a romantic enthusiasm for a legendary past including the interest in the crafts (it’s a combination of work and art). For this reason, the term of pre-rephelite became synonymous with a rejection of the external squalor brought by the industrial revolution.

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