The Aestethic Movement
The Aesthetic Movement developed in the universities and intellectual circles in the last decades of the 19th century. Originating in France it reflected the sense of frustration and uncertainty of the artist, his reaction against the materialism and the restrictive moral code of the bourgeoisie, his need to re-define the role of art.
The French artists withdrew from the political and social scene and "escaped" into aesthetic isolation, into what Gautier defined "Art for Art's Sake".
The aesthetic poets embodied his protest against the monotony and vulgarity of bourgeois life, leading an unconventional existence, pursuing sensation and excess, cultivating art and beauty.
The task of the artist was to feel sensations, not to describe the world; the main implication of the new aesthetic position was that art had no reference to life, and therefore it had nothing to do with morality, and need not be didactic.
Decadentism originated from Aestheticism and flourished, in Europe, between 1880-1890. It was marked by a sort of extremism. The decadents disregarded the simple genuine values of life and were against mediocrity; so they cut themselves off from the masses.
They refused any contact with reality and looked for an escape not in Nature, but within themselves and, they looked for what, the great French poet C.
Baudelaire called the “paradis artificiels”. In other words they looked for illusion, because illusion was perfect and could replace reality, which is, on the contrary, imperfect.