Symbolism was a late 19th Century movement that hailed from the French, Belgium and Russian poetry and arts. The word symbolism originates form two Latin words, symbolum meaning faith and symbolus meaning a sign of recognition. …
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It was a remedy to the conservative society that limited the free expressions of one’s creativity and faith. It is therefore, indirect representations of absolute truths via images and objects, both suggestively and metaphorically. In literature, it started with publications of “Le fleurs du mal” (flowers of evil )by Charles Baudalaire who also greatly admired and later on translated works of Edgar Allan Poe forming the basis for stock tropes and images. Symbolism was further developed by Stephane Mallarme and Paul Valaine in the 1860’s and 70s. The term ‘symbolism’ was first used by a critic, Jean Moreas , who sought to find a distinction between symbolists and other decadents of literature and art. Symbolism and gothic romantics share a close relation. They both have no limiting techniques of presentation; therefore encourage the ‘free verse’ ideology to encourage creativity and comprehensive representation of one’s thoughts and talent as evident in poems of Gustav Khan and Ezra Pound. As a result of this, symbolism became sanctuary to free will and from there; characteristic themes of mysticism, mortality and sexuality came into play which Albert Samain termed as “fruit of death upon the tree of life” There is symbolism in fine art that though similar in the main fabric as that in literature, is distinct. In visual art, it was a continuation of mystical tendencies in the romantic tradition. Symbolism in visual art was more widely spread that symbolism in poetry. Other areas of applied symbolism are in music, prose fiction and theatre. This research paper looks at the differences in the symbolism in “Judith” a paint work of Gustav Klimt. Gustav (July 14th 1862- February 6th 1918) was an Austrian painter specializing in paintings, murals and sketches and his main subject was the female human form, a femme de fatale, i.e. a mysterious and highly seductive woman. It compares the Gustav’s painting of Judith with a present day femme fatale. I have chosen Angelina Jolie as my present day seductive and dangerous woman. Anelina is both and actress and a humanitarian ambassador of our current age whose interaction with the world especially with the men both in the theatre and in real life has raised enough eyebrows and had enough men fall victim to her seductive and witty ways. ARTISTS’ REVIEW JUDITH. Judith was a biblical heroine in Venice who seduced and decapitated General Holofernes in an attempt to save her city Bethulia from destruction by the Assyrian army. This accorded her popularity in the Middle Ages onwards as a symbol of virtue overcoming vice. She was a Jewish widow who compromised her virtues for the greater good of her country men. The painting of Judith by Klimt was modeled by Adele Bloch-Baur whose beauty and coquettish aura and sense of fashion were not far fetched from what Judith was. Judith’s sensuality and seduction as she held up high the head of Holoferns shocked the Vienna inhabitants and for a long time , they could not come into terms with her actions and personality, a no doubt femme fatale who had nothing to hide. Although Judith decapitated Holoferns, she herself in the painting also seems decapitated. She wears clothes that half conceal half expose her body, a gold chocker that clearly separates her head form her body and at the hem of her shirt, though ornamental cuts across her abdomen like a flat belt. This shows some level of slavery within her although she herself saves her city. Judith therefore comes across as a brave woman who stands out from the crowd. She could have ignored the city’s safety and eloped and got sanctuary in a far land, after all, she was widowed and had nothing to lose if she moved. She nust have read the atmosphere of her city men, either they were
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