Nineteenth Century Art
Symbolism and Art Nouveau
Paul Gauguin, Mahano Atua (Day of the God), 1894, oil on canvas, Tahiti (French)
This symbolism followed and coincided with Impressionism, but went against Western culture
and looked underneath reality, searched for the soul and the spirit
This is during the time that Sigmund Freud wrote his main work, which focused on the
unconscious, the Id. He had stuff from Tahiti, just as Gauguin studied there.
Gauguin was a stockbroker, who studied under Cessane and was disgusted with urban life and
wanted a more primitive civilization. He lost all his money in a market crash and abandoned his
wife and kids to move to Tahiti. He is known for his strong use of outline, which has become
know as “cloissonism.” He called his own approach to art, “synthesism,” because he was trying
to synthesize art with nature.
He was hoping to find a society untouched by Western culture, even though Tahiti had been
colonized largely, but he ignored this in his art and showed it as if it was still pure.
The god is a Java god, not Tahitian. Three female figures are shown, one woman, in three states,
birth on right, life in middle, death on the left.
He created an enigmatic space.
Gustave Moreau, The Apparition, 1874-1876, watercolor on paper, Paris, France
We see a Biblical scene, which is supposed to be the highest form of academic art, in which he
was trained. She sees a vision of the beheaded head of John the Baptist. The image looks to be
very flat because of the ornate detail. The dangerous woman, the “fem fatal.”
Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893, tempera and casein on cardboard, Oslo, Norway
He took art in a new direction, called “expressionism.” He used color and line and form in his art
to express strong feelings. The image was inspired by a walk that Munch had taken through
Oslo, where he swore he heard a shriek passing through nature. He was sick at the time and this
depicts modern alienation, separated from one another and the landscape. The blood-red streaks
in the sky are similar to those that Van Gogh used. The head is a basic skull shape, but has no
distinctive features, but covers ears so as not to hear the scream, completely alienating oneself.
The land is a blue-black and the lake is a golden-yellow.
Auguste Rodin, Burghers of Calais, 1884-1889, bronze, Paris, France
He was trying to move away from the Greek and Roman sculpture in marble, in a niche, with the
perfect human form, the ideal nude form. He did not get into the Acoule de Bouzart, but assisted