The end of the century (fin-de-siècle, fan de cecl) in Paris was accompanied by a permanent economic crisis and a whole “bunch” of social problems. This became fertile ground for the emergence of radical left groups and the corresponding reaction of the conservatives. The events of the late 1890s divided France into bourgeois and bohemian, conservative and radical, Catholic and anti-clerical, anti-republican and anarchic.
The whole spectrum of artistic movements, including neo-impressionism, symbolism and the Nabi (Prophets) group, reflected this chaotic era. They adhered to the fact that their still active predecessors are impressionists: landscapes, leisure scenes and city life. But these works were full of introspective and fantastic visions, and the interpretation of familiar plots has changed.
Left: Paul Bonnard, "Little Laundress", lithograph (1896). Private collection
Most of the artists associated with symbolism were not inclined to materialism and were disillusioned with the science that could not alleviate the suffering of society. Symbolic art focused on mythical narratives, religion, and the world of nightmares. This direction sought to expose abstract sensations and transmit universal experience through subjective images.
The works of neo-impressionists or nabids were sometimes identified with symbolism, for example, Maurice Denis (the Nabi group). At the same time, artists associated with this trend, in particular, Odilon Redon, did not always recognize themselves as such.
Left: Odilon Redon, Pegasus (1895 - 1900). Private collection
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, "Jeanne Avril" (1899). Private collection
- Theophile-Alexander Steinlen, "The illustrious company" Black Cat "" (1896). Private collection
According to the official website of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Main illustration: Louis Anketen, “In" Mirliton "by Bruand" (1887), private collection