AESTHETICISM AND DECADENCE
The Aesthetic Movement developed in the universities and intellectual circles in the last decades of 19th century. Born in France with Thèophile Gautier (“Smalti e cammei”). 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 redefine the role of the art. They desires to escape in an aesthetic isolation called by Gautier “Art for Art’s sake”. The bohemien embodied his protest against the monotony of bourgeois life leading an unconventional life cultivating art and beauty. Walter Pater is the theorist of the Aesthetic Movement in England. In his masterpiece “Marius the Epicurean” (1885) he rejected religious faith and said that art was only means to stop time, the only certainly. Life should be lived in the spirit of art, namely “as a work of art”, filling each passing moment with intense experience, feeling all kinds of sensations.
A number of features can be distinguished in the works of these decadent artists:
-excessive attention to the self;
-hedonistic and sensuous attitude;
-perversity in subject matter;
-disenchantment with contemporary society;
-evocative use of language.
Decadence must be seen as a European movement. In the late 1880s a group of French writers contributed to the journal La Decadent, they were the Symbolists Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Huysmans. The representatives of Decadence in Italy are D’Annunzio, Pascoli, Gozzano.
The term “dandy” is used in a song Yankee Doodle and it’s a world of the song that mocked the garish uniform of the American soldiers. The term referred to a man who boasts about his appearance even through he is wearing odd and ordinary clothes. Vanity, extravagance, refinement were linked to the more positive idea of the dandy which developed with George Brummell. He created dandyism as a lifestyle, from England this trend spread in France where it was connected to those artistic movements, such as Symbolism and Aestheticism, which rejected the capitalistic outlook.