I realize this is kind of long, so if you are short on time but want to read something than read the last paragraph.
Out of all of the art movements that we looked over this week, symbolism struck me the most. I'm going to quote what the Metropolitan Museum of Art says about the movement on their website says about symbolist artwork because I can not find a better way to explain it. The Museum says:
"Symbolist painters believed that art should reflect an emotion or idea rather than represent the natural world in the objective, quasi-scientific manner embodied by Realism and Impressionism. Returning to the personal expressivity advocated by the Romantics earlier in the nineteenth century, they felt that the symbolic value or meaning of a work of art stemmed from the recreation of emotional experiences in the viewer through color, line, and composition. In painting, Symbolism represents a synthesis of form and feeling, of reality and the artist's inner subjectivity."
To me, this explanation, or definition if you will, of the symbolist movement details the main focus behind the movement: make the observer think about the piece and analyze it using the feelings and memories that come up while looking at it. The most interesting thing to me about this idea is that some symbolist paintings may have more than one and extremely varied interpretations due to the relative uniqueness of individual emotions and experiences.
The movement actually began as a literary movement in 1880's, when Jean Moreas published his manifesto in Le Figaro, and was influenced by the convictions of poet Stephane Mallarme, which stated that reality was best expressed through poetry (art) because it paralleled nature rather than replicating it. In Mallarme's own words: "To name an object is to suppress three-quarters of the enjoyment to be found in the poem... suggestion, that is the dream."
I believe the Mallarme's idea of suggestion rather than categorization is pivotal in understanding the symbolist movement and the art that came from that period. The artists might not have even had a set meaning behind some of their paintings besides some emotion they felt at the time. Their work merely suggests an idea for us to analyze, which is AWSOME! Just like in our dreams, there are no limitations to the subjects of symbolist art. If you do not believe me, then just look at this sculpture by artist Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat and try to guess the name of the piece and why you thought of that particular name. I will not reveal the true name of the piece because I am interested in what you FEEL it would be called and DON'T LOOK IT UP.