In art, a loosely organized movement that flourished in the 1880s and '90s and was closely related to the Symbolist movement in literature. In reaction against both Realism and Impressionism, Symbolist painters stressed art's subjective, symbolic, and decorative functions and turned to the mystical and occult in an attempt to evoke subjective states of mind by visual means. Though aspects of Symbolism appear in the work of Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and the Nabis, its leading exponents were Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon, and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Though associated primarily with France, it flourished all over Europe, had great international impact, and influenced 20th-century art and literature.
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