When we refer to symbolism , we are talking about everything that, worth the redundancy, is significant and symbolic for society, this is considered as a movement, a trend and an artistic style , it is manifested in various ways and has been developed effectively through the years.


What is symbolism?

At the end of the 19th century  , symbolism stood out as one of the most important movements, mainly literary, in history , causing a great controversy regarding its appearance, it is characterized by being broken down into a number of symbols, lines and various things , which they make up a work; in this way the spectators of this art can associate one image with another and look for the meaning of it. In the same way, it expands around the world, progressively standing out not only as a trend, but as an artistic school that has its roots in France, popular for its form of manifestation based on suggestions and evocations.



Symbolism appeared in France in the mid-nineteenth century , manifesting itself as a totally opposite pole to what naturalism was , rising up against this movement and trend with the fantasy that was applied in their works, that game of perception that filled the artists with controversial for the time , it could be said in the same way that this movement was catapulted thanks to what was the industrial revolution, since at the time the need was created to use fantasy and return to what were the roots of romanticism and idealism , however, there was a desire to be innovative, which is why symbolism was born as a new movement thathe immediately linked up with many artists.



Mainly symbolism was a movement that manifested itself for the first time in literature , rising up against naturalism and realism, which were monotonous, everyday artistic movements and trends, which were responsible for expressing the lived reality of each human being, showing many Basic and crude things of their activities, the main ideals of these movements triggered a suspicion that became rejection by the youth, who at the time felt captive of all those realities and wanted something more fantastic and exciting .

In this way the symbolism was manifested for the first time, praising and emphasizing all the spiritual and cultural characteristics of the area , applying in the same way what was imagination , creativity and especially the dreams of home one of the artists who had preferences for this move.

One of the first poets who reacted to symbolism was the Frenchman Charles Baudelaire , who today is considered the father of modern lyricism and one of the precursors or starting point of movements and trends such as Parnassianism , decadence , the Modernism and symbolism , most of his works were so innovative and revealing that in many regions they were banned for being extremely dark, immoral and other things that were frowned upon at the time.

Other of the most relevant precursors of symbolism were the French Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine , who were poets who at the time had toxic, hazardous and not very pleasant love relationships , they decided to fully enter this movement, since they were exhausted from realism, Rimbaud was the youngest of the two with only 17 years of age, he irreversibly impacted the populations with his lyrics, since in some way he focused it so that the spectators could observe him as a seer or medium who was in charge of manifest the disorder and baseness of human beings in every way.

However, although this young man was the most renowned, his own lyrics blunted him in such a way that at each literary meeting he appeared ragged, with dirty and tattered clothes and in an almost alcoholic state , for which as his popularity, it diminished, leaving him in the end with the nickname of enfant terrible. Verlaine, although he was very attached to this, if he achieved a lot of fame since he took more care of his actions, he impressed viewers with his book “The Damned Poets”, which was full of criticism, judgments and stereotypes.


Although the symbolism is easy to identify due to its peculiarity when manifesting itself, the following characteristics of the movement can be distinguished:

  • It is a movement that is the polarity of naturalism and realism , manifesting itself against it in a radical way.
  • It is based on playing with the viewer’s perception, suggestion, imagination and unreality are one of its fundamental pillars.
  • Born in France in the mid- nineteenth century.
  • Imagination, religion and the various dreams of artists are the most used themes in this movement, since it was created for that, to be an escape from all the existing reality at the time.
  • One of its most relevant objectives, and for which it captivated many people and expanded rapidly, was the extreme need for self-identification and the constant search for the hidden reality , which would be the truth of the universe, all this starting from imagination and dreams.
  • The artists progressively applied suggestion to these works, so that when observing or reading them it seemed like a role play and identities , trying to mix the audience with the works.

Symbolism in literature

In literature it was in the area in which symbolism emphasized more its resentment against what was realism and naturalism , adding not only religion and imagination , but adding to the previous two what fantasy was , changing in a slight way the approach to give more force to the impact that it would have on society.

Symbolism in painting

As previously emphasized, symbolism focuses on religion, imagination and dreams , which is more seen in painting than in other areas of this movement, since all the psychic content is manifested in it in different ways. of the artist on these themes.

Symbolism in sculpture

In sculpture the symbolism is shown aesthetic and detailed , focusing more on the avant-garde to attract the attention of the spectators, which worked in a tremendous way in what was the proliferation of the movement already addressing sculpture.


  • Arthur Rimbaud.
  • Paul Verlaine.
  • Charles Baudelaire.
  • Rodin.
  • Aristide Maillol.
  • Adolf von Hildebrand.
  • Medardo Rosso.
  • Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre.


Among the most relevant works are the following:

  • Jupiter and Semele.
  • The Unicorns.
  • Apollo’s chariot.
  • Druid.
  • Women in the garden.
  • The two schoolchildren.
  • France’s Island.
  • Sick kid.


This movement, although in its beginnings, caused a great controversy , since people were not used to its ideologies , however, it caused them curiosity about what is currently one of the most relevant literary and artistic movements and trends in all The story , the way in which it suggests to individuals in order to make them come to their space and mix with what the work tries to express, is so unusual and striking that it is impossible for viewers not to feel attracted to it. ; which marks a fairly large social relevance.

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