East Euro Symbolists

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East Euro Symbolists

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Muokkaaja: joulukuu 19, 2010, 11:31 am

Just added Wladyslaw Podkowiński - Frenzy 1894 to my pic gallery.
Also added some more Jacek Malczewski. Any more east euro symbolists
of interest?

joulukuu 20, 2010, 2:54 pm

Stefan Grabinski is another great one. The so-called "Polish Poe":


The Dark Domain is a collection of his short stories published by Daedalus Fiction.

There is also a great symbolist tradition in Russia which is examined in a Taschen art book focusing on the Symbolist Movement.

joulukuu 21, 2010, 2:44 pm

Grabinski has been lurking in my tbr pile for a while.
The Taschen sounds familiar. I'll have to check.
Podkowiński and Malczewski were Poles. Franz Kupka, a Czech, was a symbolist early.

joulukuu 22, 2010, 11:04 am

Depending on one's interpretation, Kafka could easily fit this category, since he was Czech, was Jewish, and wrote in German. His mystical imagination offers a fascinating perspective on dying empires and labyrinthine bureuacracies. Like Wallace Stevens, he worked in the insurance industry, a job that always has one foot in the coffin.

joulukuu 22, 2010, 12:44 pm

I was thinking of painters because western art history seems especially ignorant of east europe. Writers seem to get more attention. The 3 painters I mentioned are almost unknown in the west.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 22, 2010, 12:54 pm

The Symbolists by Michael Gibson and published (1988 English translation) by Abrams has chapters on Central and Eastern Europe. This volume also has some nice tipped-in plates.

And...of course the touchstone is f#^ed

joulukuu 22, 2010, 3:06 pm

The Redon cover looks familiar. Not sure if I've seen it.

joulukuu 22, 2010, 3:23 pm

I looked up the edition with the Redon cover on Amazon. To tell the truth, I'm not even sure it's the same book; either it's different or it's been extensively revised. The TOC is certainly different.

joulukuu 22, 2010, 4:06 pm

I am pretty sure it's the same book. Highly recommended. It is a nice overview of a varied movement. Also of interest is Art Nouveau by Paul Greenhalgh. It is an exhibition guide to the V & A exhibit. It is instrumental in how Symbolism ties into the concurrent movements of Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, the Aesthetic movement (Pater, etc.), along with touching upon various locales and materials.

joulukuu 22, 2010, 5:11 pm

Contents of the 1988 Abrams edition are as follows:

Introduction: Between Progress and Decadence

Chapter One - France and the Rise of Symbolism

Chapter Two - England: Affinities in a Cold Climate

Chapter Three - Central Europe: A Shipwreck in Slow Motion

Chapter Four - Belgium: Sublimity and Solitude

Chapter Five - Easter Europe: Symbolism in a Different Context

Chapter Six - Scandanavia and the United States: the Protestant Fringe

Chapter Seven - Italy and Spain: The Catholic Fringe

Biographical Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index of Artists and Works

Photograph Credits

joulukuu 23, 2010, 10:01 am

I'm reading Death on the Installment Plan by Ferdinand Celine Just read the part where young Ferdinand takes a job with a Symbolist engraver. Ferdinand's tirade against "Symbolist junk" is hilarious. It's almost a visceral reaction to the movement.

joulukuu 23, 2010, 11:19 am

Thanks Maki. I'll check it out.
Celine was a crazy old man, no doubt. Didn't know art from ...

joulukuu 23, 2010, 12:56 pm

... a hole in the ground. I'll post some excerpts. Pretty hilarious, especially since the novel is full of hallucinatory visions and a high fantasy epic sequence. Celine is more Modernist than Symbolist, but like his Fascist contemporary Ezra Pound, he straddles both movements, since Pound wrote efulgent Swinburne-ish poetry prior to his Imagist stage and economic prattling.

joulukuu 24, 2010, 4:02 pm

Fascist confrere, you mean? ;)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2012, 11:47 am

Finally got around to reading The Dark Domain and In Sarah's House. SG's frankly sexual contents are unusual for 1920, more like 2020! "Fumes" is an especially wild story. Kind of like a folk tale on acid!

Anything in The Motion Demon that's not in the other two?

toukokuu 29, 2012, 1:15 pm

I took my daughter to see "The Avengers" over the weekend. There is a Russian interrogation scene involving agents named "Sologub" and "Lermontov". My attempt to explain the references got me politely hushed.

toukokuu 29, 2012, 1:51 pm

If you had name dropped Sologub's appellation as "The Bard of Death", maybe that would've gotten some "Cool" or "Bad ass" remarks.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 3:37 am

On the original question about Eastern European symbolist painters: Check out

Victor Borissov-Moussatov : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Borissov-Moussatov (sorry, the link is in French, but it gives access to some pictures of his work).

Mikhail Vrubel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Vrubel

toukokuu 30, 2012, 7:45 am

We have had Vrubel up here before - his demon series.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 9:04 am

Right okay. I'll check some more, but tros is right - eastern European symbolist artists are somewhat neglected in art history.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 9:51 am

It seems so. I am looking forward to receiving the Czech art book on of our contributors posted on a week or so back.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 2012, 10:21 am

How about some Croatian fin-de-siècle?

toukokuu 30, 2012, 10:22 am

Tentacle sex: always popular everywhere.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 10:34 am

This looks an awful lot like Franz von Stuck's Sensuality (or Sin?). Who is the artist?

toukokuu 30, 2012, 10:42 am

I don't know! But I'm pretty sure that's great-grandmama. With great-grandpapa, of course.

It's from this page: ZAGREB - MÜNCHEN: Hrvatsko slikarstvo i Akademija likovnih umjetnosti u Münchenu

toukokuu 30, 2012, 10:45 am

Must have been a workshop:

Franz von Stuck's Stuck

I think I prefer #22. Better chest.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 2012, 10:56 am

A motley crew of Croatian fin-de-siecle artists; impressionists, decadents, symbolists, expressionists (I suggest googling on names for best results):

Izidor Kršnjavi, Ferdinand Quiquerez, Josip Bauer, Nikola Mašić, Anton Aron, Dragan Melkus, Gustav Poša, Hugo Lukšić, Marko Murat, Mato Celestin Medović, Menci Clement Crnčić, Marko Rašica, Bela Čikoš Sesija , Oton Iveković, Ivan Tišov, Robert Auer, Oskar Herman, Josip Račić, Emanuel Vidović, Mirko Rački, Vladimir Becić, Miroslav Kraljević, Ljubo Babić, Vilko Gecan…

Some random links randomly:

Emanuel Vidović (1870–1953)

Angelus (1906)

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922)


(his kids were models)

Mirko Rački (1879-1982)

Paolo i Francesca

Bela Čikoš Sesija (1864-1931)

Valpurgina noć (Walpurgisnacht)

Saloma (1919) (click on centre thumbnail to see whole picture)

Mato Celestin Medović (1857-1920)


More Sesija, Medovic, Robert Auer here (a blog devoted to Croatian visual arts, apparently)

Menci Klement Crnčić (1865-1930)

Dvoje u prirodi

Tomislav Krizman (1882-1955)

Oops, must be off now.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 2012, 12:51 pm

More Bela Čikoš Sesija, study for "The Wake", 1896

Wonderful link: Moderna Galerija

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 2012, 12:55 pm

More Mirko Rački, "City of Dis", 1906

toukokuu 30, 2012, 1:43 pm

Thanks you, Lola - great stuff.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 1:44 pm

More Mato Celestin Medović, "Bacchanalia", 1893

(Interesting subject choice for a priest)

toukokuu 30, 2012, 1:49 pm


De nada--I love dropping work for the truly important stuff.

toukokuu 30, 2012, 8:57 pm

17: The badass in that scene belonged to Scarlett Johannsen.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 2012, 1:48 am

> 24,26

The one in #22 from the MUO is also by von Stuck.

The one in #26 was part of a forced sale under the Nazis and restituted from Holywood lawyer Somer to the heirs (I think) and sold at Christie's for 5x the estimate.

There are engravings, too, for those on a budget.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 2012, 9:11 am


Thanks. Can you make out the writing in the upper right hand corner (in #22)?

toukokuu 31, 2012, 10:37 am

I can't, but isn't g.d.k. gornjem desnom kutu (or something like that)? So the museum says, "FRANZ STUCK," which is about the right number of blobs.

toukokuu 31, 2012, 1:59 pm

Could be... I thought they might be numbers.

I remembered a Hungarian symbolist (or expressionist or impressionist--he didn't belong to any determined school, wasn't even academically educated), Tivadar Csontváry. Zoltán Huszárik had made a movie about him (Csontváry), which is how I learned of him. By all appearances a most unusual figure. I remember the movie as splashing in golden sunlight. Csontváry travelled lots in the South, especially the Mediterranean, and most of his pictures are filled with light and colour.

This is a rare representation of the sinister in his work, the devil as an old fisherman:

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 2012, 2:11 pm

A scene from Huszárik's movie (1980):

and Csontváry's painting of the same location (1903):

The Old Bridge in Mostar.

toukokuu 31, 2012, 8:46 pm

Was this the Starry Mos bridge that got blown up during the war?

toukokuu 31, 2012, 9:06 pm

Stari Most, yes.

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 9:30 pm

Maximilian Pirner, Finis (The End of All Things), 1887


kesäkuu 2, 2012, 7:15 am

Decadence: In Morbid Colours is excellent. A lot of artists unknown to me. Beautifully done.

kesäkuu 2, 2012, 7:21 am

Will definitely get myself a copy.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 17, 2012, 8:50 am

The Hieroglyphic Press's On the Hill of Roses is now available.

and The Stefan Grabinski website: http://www.stefangrabinski.org/

lokakuu 20, 2015, 1:56 pm

While not Symbolist/Decadent per se, the forthcoming edition of Zagreb Noir looks promising. The moral rot of genocide and national collapse is still fresh in the minds of people living in the now separated republics of the former Yugoslavia.

lokakuu 22, 2015, 9:59 am

Russian Tales of Demonic Possession (translated by Marcia A Morris) contains two medieval tales of possession and their later appearance in 2 stories by Aleksei Remizov.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 24, 2015, 10:10 am

Photographs and caricatures of the Russian authors associated with the "Silver Age": http://stpetersburg.berkeley.edu/ulla/ulla2_1.html

Main site, "Mapping Petersburg": http://stpetersburg.berkeley.edu/index-2.html

tammikuu 12, 2016, 8:49 am

This is an interview with a scholar who has done research on Buddhist and occult interests in early Bolshevik Russia. You may need to create an account to read it.


Muokkaaja: syyskuu 29, 2017, 12:32 pm

Aleksei Remizov: I had thought I had written something about him somewhere in this group some while back, so I won't go into it much here, but I will mention (in the probable event I wrote nothing) that Remizov was an interesting person, a writer and graphic artist, associated with the Russian Silver Age set. A few of his novels and collections of novellas can still be had at reasonable cost (his novel The Pond, translated by Stephen Whitmore Jones, is available for free download on the internet: http://self.gutenberg.org/eBooks/WPLBN0003437396-The-Pond-by-Remizov-Aleksei.asp..., as can several anthologies containing his short stories and plays (Skaz, Russian Tales of Demonic Possession, Russian Symbolist Theatre, Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Russian Science Fiction and Fantasy). There are also journals (Wormwood) and various academic texts devoted to his written and graphic work.

It is particularly encouraging that at long last a new translation is coming later this year, Sisters of the Cross on Columbia University Press's Russian Library series. I hope it won't be 90 years more before we can hear from this strange man again.

syyskuu 29, 2017, 8:19 pm

One of Zamyatin's most famous essays and some of the earliest if not the first critical work he published was inspired by the attacks on Remizov (in particular) and other Scythians. I don't remember the title ("Scythians", maybe?) but IIRC, it's in a collection called A Soviet heretic--very much recommended, his was an especially rare and fascinating point of view of the writers and the period. (Technical formation but a great literary imagination, revolutionary but after October very quickly pitted against the bolsheviks, atheist but with fondest ties to the mystics in his circle--unboxable.)

syyskuu 29, 2017, 8:50 pm

“Scythians?” (Скифы ли?)

syyskuu 29, 2017, 8:57 pm

Oh yes, that must be it, thanks! What most excellent google-fu.

lokakuu 10, 2017, 8:43 am

Not really sure if this applies, but For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian is a fascinating look at Romania between the wars. Written as a journal, the narrator comes into contact with aesthetes, libertines, early Zionists, an eccentric professor, and proto-Nazi thugs. The atmosphere is of foreboding and despair.

toukokuu 30, 2019, 10:13 am

There appears to be a revival of interest in Aleksei Remizov: https://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-little-devil-and-other-stories/9780231183819. CUP recently translated and published the novel, Sisters of the Cross.

lokakuu 16, 2019, 11:07 am

This might seem like a tangential leap, but it is worth considering the Kabbalistic tales of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, himself part of a larger tradition of Hasidic storytelling. Granted, Rabbi Nachman lived from 1772 to 1810, but I'd place him as an "outlier symbolist" akin to William Blake in creating a symbol-laden cosmology.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 16, 2019, 3:16 pm

The saga of Aleksei Remizov in English translation (this came up as I was looking for where I had seen, or dreamed I'd seen, reference to a forthcoming translation):


marraskuu 22, 2019, 11:09 am

On Estonian decadent art (and an interesting magazine):


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