TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 1970

The Iconography of Symbolist Art

I.

THERE NEVER HAS BEEN A
successful direct overview of Symbolist painting and sculpture. It seems to be impossible since each of its requisite elements is locked into a network of cross-references and apparently evanescent data. This results from at least two reasons. The first is apparent. When Symbolism is treated in a straightforward, horizontal way it is made to appear superficial, which it is not. The second reason is not so apparent. There is no dross in Symbolism, no grain and chaff. Everything is equally important (and therefore, possibly, equally minor). Symbolism lacks monolithic figures (with the possible exceptions of Gauguin and Klimt). There is no great man in Symbolism—at least not in the way that Rembrandt is great, or Goya, or Michelangelo or even Ingres. This owes partly to the fact that Symbolism is a style which has not lent itself to monumental art. It emphasizes

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