AESTHETIC MOVEMENT: RIASSUNTO IN INGLESE
Aestheticism.The Aesthetic Movement develops in the universities and intellectual circles in the last decades of the 19 th century (1890). Born in France with Theophile Gautier, it reflects the sense of frustration and uncertainty of the artist, his reaction against the materialism and the restrictive moral code of
bourgeoisie. The artists escape into aesthetic isolation, into “Art for Art’s Sake”. The catch words of this period are: art for art’s sake (Theophile Gautier). The doctrine of Aestheticism is imported to England by James Whistler. This period is characterized by a reaction to the hypocrisy of the Victorian society. John Spencer and Keats are the forerunners of the cult of Beauty, but for Keats Beauty has also a moral connotation (different from Aestheticism).
In this phase the PreRaphaelites (Dante, Rossetti) spread in Europe, they exault the art before Raphael because it was pure and uncontaminated. There are others forerunners of Aestheticism in England, such as John Ruskin and Walter Pater (theorist of Aestheticism), they are the philosophers and the teachers of Oscar Wilde. John Ruskin thinks that a painting should reflect the feelings of the painter; on the contrary Walter Pater says that a painting shouldn’t have any presence of the painter and that art is the only mean to stop time, the only certain thing. They express beauty for itself, without any moral connotation. These artists criticize the Victorian society because of the false appearances, the hypocrisy and the monotony and vulgarity of bourgeoisie. Another critical element was the insularity that implies restriction and narrow minds. They led the rebellion to the extreme (rebellion reminds us the Romantic) in search of the pleasure of all senses.
AESTHETIC MOVEMENT SUMMARY
In the second period of Aestheticism we have the Decadentism: the artists want to find the pleasure and reach the artificial paradise, often through the use of drugs and overcoming human limits. The Y ellow Book is a periodical which reflects the decadent taste in its subjects. The task of the artist is to feel sensations, so he is seen as the transcriber “not of the world, not of mere fact, but of his sense of it”. The aesthetes have a life that is a work of art, because they exault beauty in all of its forms.
AESTHETIC MOVEMENT: OSCAR WILDE
Oscar Wilde enjoys beautiful things and his life had to be a work of art. In England Aestheticism is characterized by dandies, in France by bohemiens (their lifestyle is dissolute, they are poor and they are also alcohol and drugs addicted): bohemiens and dandies share the same ideas, but they have different lifestyles. The figure of the dandy is embodied by Oscar Wilde. Dandy has refined and elegant style and manners. English artists of this period take inspiration from A Rebours (=against nature) by Huysmans, a novel whose hero tries to create an entirely artificial life in his search for unusual sensations and for the pleasure of all the senses.