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Aesthetic movement and Decadence


The Aesthetic Movement was born in France with Thèophile Gautier in the 19th century.
The roots of the English Aesthetic Movement can be traced back to John Keats.
It reflected the sense of frustration of the artist and was a reaction against materialism and his need to re-define the role of art.
The artist escaped into the world of art, that is “Art for Art’s Sake” and tried to achieve pleasure and beauty feeling all kind of sensations.
The advocate and theorist of the Aesthetic Movement is Walter Pater.
He rejected religion and affirmed that life should be lived in the spirt of art and that everyone’s life is a work of art and that art was the only means to stop time.
The task of the artist was to feel sensations and to be attentive to the comely, the gracious and the blithe.
Art shouldn’t have any political, social and moral involvement.
It had nothing to do with morality and need not to be didactic.
A lot of features can be seen in the works of these artists, such as excessive attention to the self, hedonistic and sensuous attitude, perversity, evocative use of language and detachment from society.

Decadence is a European movement.
It developed thanks to the Symbolists Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé who were much influenced by Charles Baudelaire’s Les fleurs du mal.
The main representatives of Decadence in Italy were Gabriele d’Annunzio with “Il Piacere” and Giovanni Pascoli.

In this period two important figures developed: the bohemian and the dandy. The Bohemian allies himself to the proletariat whereas the dandy is a bourgeois artist.

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