:"This article is about aestheticism, a term with a root meaning of sensuous; Not to be confused with the religious practice of
asceticism: an abstinence from the sensual."
The Aesthetic Movement is a loosely defined movement in
literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design in later nineteenth-century Britain. Generally speaking, it represents the same tendencies that symbolism or decadence stood for in France, or decadentismo stood for in Italy, and may be considered the British branch of the same movement. It belongs to the anti-Victorian reaction and had post-Romantic roots, and as such anticipates modernism. It took place in the late Victorian periodfrom around 1868 to 1901, and is generally considered to have ended with the trial of Oscar Wilde.
Aesthetic Movement literature
The British decadent writers were deeply influenced by the
Oxforddon Walter Paterand his essays published in 1867–68, in which he stated that life had to be lived intensely, following an ideal of beauty. His "Studies in the History of the Renaissance" (1873) became a sacred text for art-centric young men of the Victorian era. Decadent writers used the slogan " Art for Art's Sake" ("L'art pour l'art"), coined by the philosopher Victor Cousinand promoted by Théophile Gautier in France, and asserted that there was no connection between art and morality.
The artists and writers of the Aesthetic movement tended to hold that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages. As a consequence, they did not accept
John Ruskinand Matthew Arnold's utilitarian conception of art as something moral or useful. Instead, they believed that Art did not have any didacticpurpose; it need only be beautiful. The Aesthetes developed the cult of beauty, which they considered the basic factor in art. Life should copy Art, they asserted. They considered nature as crude and lacking in design when compared to art. The main characteristics of the movement were: suggestion rather than statement, sensuality, massive use of symbols, and synaesthetic effects—that is, correspondence between words, colours and music.
Aestheticism had its forerunners in
John Keatsand Percy Bysshe Shelley, and among the Pre-Raphaelites. In Britain the best representatives were Oscar Wildeand Algernon Charles Swinburne, both influenced by the French Symbolists, and James McNeill Whistlerand Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The movement and these poets were satirised in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "Patience" and other works, such as F. C. Burnand's "The Colonel", and in comic magazines, such as "Punch". Compton Mackenzie's novel " Sinister Street" makes use of the type as a phase through which the protagonist passes under the influence of older, decadent individuals. The novels of Evelyn Waugh, who was a young participant in aesthete society at Oxford, portray the aesthete mostly from a satirical point of view, but also from that of an insider. Some names associated with this loose assemblage are Robert Byron, Evelyn Waugh, Harold Acton, Nancy Mitford, A.E. Housmanand Anthony Powell.
Aesthetic Movement visual arts
Artists associated with the Aesthetic movement include
James McNeill Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, and Aubrey Vincent Beardsley.
Aesthetic Movement decorative arts
Aesthetic furniture was limited to approximately late nineteenth-century. Furniture typically originated in Britain/Ireland (usually referred to as simply "Aesthetic") or in the United States (usually referred to as "American Aesthetic").
Aesthetic movement furniture is characterized by the several common themes:
* Ebonized wood with gilt highlights
* Japanese influence
* Prominent use of nature, especially flowers, birds, ginko leaves, and peacock feathers.
* Blue and white on porcelain and china.
Ebonized furniture means that the wood is painted or stained to a black ebony finish. The furniture is sometimes completely ebony-colored. More often however, there is gilding added to the carved surfaces of the feathers or stylized flowers that adorn the furniture.
Japan was a relatively newly contacted culture in terms of influence, and looking at aesthetic furniture, there are commonalities especially in the overall rectangular shape with columns, and the intricate woodcarvings, this influence can be seen in a concurrent movement known as the
Anglo-Japanese style, especially in the work of E.W. Godwin and Christopher Dresser.
As aesthetic movement was similar to the writing in that it was about sensuality and nature, nature themes often appear on the furniture. A typical aesthetic feature is the gilded carved flower, or the stylized peacock feather. Colored paintings of birds or flowers are often seen. Non-ebonized aesthetic movement furniture may have realistic 3D renditions of birds or flowers carved into the wood.
Contrasting with the ebonized-gilt furniture is use of blue and white in porcelain and china. Similar themes of peacock feathers and nature would be used in blue and white tones on dinnerware and other crockery. The blue and white design was also popular on square porcelain tiles. It is reported that
Oscar Wildeused aesthetic decorations during his youth. This aspect of the movement was also satirised in "Punch" magazine and in "Patience".
Irrationalism and Aestheticism
Irrationalism and aestheticism were
philosophical movements which formed as a cultural reaction against positivismin the early 20th century. These perspectives opposed or de-emphasized the importance of the rationalityof human beings. Instead, they concentrated on Kant's "noumenal realm", or the experience of one's own existence.
Part of the movements involved claims that
sciencewas inferior to intuition. In this project, artwas given an especially high place, as it was considered the gateway to the noumenon. The movement was not widely accepted by the public, as the social system generally limited access of the artto the elite(ie. a "Mandarin elitism").
Some of the followers of this idea are
Soren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henri Bergson, Lev Shestovand Georges Sorel. Symbolism and existentialismgrew out of these schools of thought.
Artistic Dress movement
* Gaunt, William. "The Aesthetic Adventure". New York: Harcourt, 1945. ISBN None.
* Halin, Widar. "Christopher Dresser, a Pioneer of Modern Design." Phaidon: 1990. ISBN 0-7148-2952-8.
* Lambourne, Lionel. "The Aesthetic Movement." Phaidon Press: 1996. ISBN 0-7148-3000-3.
* Snodin, Michael and John Styles. "Design & The Decorative Arts, Britain 1500–1900." V&A Publications: 2001. ISBN 1-85177-338-X.
* [http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/decadence/decadentov.html Aesthetes & Decadents on Victorian Web]
* [http://www.achome.co.uk/architecture/aesthetic.htm Books, Research & Information]
* [http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-144,pageNum-56.html Cliff's Notes: Oscar Wilde's Aesthetics]
* cite web |publisher=
Victoria and Albert Museum
title= Aestheticism Style Guide
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
AEstheticism — [AE]s*thet i*cism, n. The doctrine of [ae]sthetics; [ae]sthetic principles; devotion to the beautiful in nature and art. Lowell. [1913 Webster] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
aestheticism — (n.) 1855, from AESTHETIC (Cf. aesthetic) + ISM (Cf. ism) … Etymology dictionary
aestheticism — [es thet′i siz΄əm] n. 1. the doctrine that aesthetic principles underlie all human values 2. a) sensitivity to art and beauty b) the artificial cultivation of artistic sensitivity … English World dictionary
aestheticism — /es thet euh siz euhm/ or, esp. Brit., /ees /, n. 1. the acceptance of artistic beauty and taste as a fundamental standard, ethical and other standards being secondary. 2. an exaggerated devotion to art, music, or poetry, with indifference to… … Universalium
AESTHETICISM — Yuibi shugi or tanbi shugi (aestheticism) is a term used to describe the narrow aesthetic focus of late 19th century Western Romanticism (and later modernism) that found its way to Japan. Embodied in the phrase “art for art’s sake,”… … Japanese literature and theater
aestheticism — aesthetic (US also esthetic) ► ADJECTIVE 1) concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty. 2) of pleasing appearance. ► NOUN ▪ a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement. DERIVATIVES aesthetically… … English terms dictionary
aestheticism — also estheticism noun Date: 1855 1. a doctrine that the principles of beauty are basic to other and especially moral principles 2. devotion to or emphasis on beauty or the cultivation of the arts … New Collegiate Dictionary
aestheticism — noun A doctrine which holds aesthetics or beauty as the highest ideal or most basic standard. See Also: aesthete, aesthetics … Wiktionary
aestheticism — Doctrine associated with late 19th century writers and artists, including Walter Pater, James McNeill Whistler, and especially Oscar Wilde. It holds that the appreciation of art and beauty is the highest aim of human life, and especially that the … Philosophy dictionary
aestheticism — doctrine that beauty is central to other moral principles Philosophical Isms … Phrontistery dictionary