Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. -Oscar WildeAt it’s height, the Aesthetic movement was a cult of beauty, with cultivators such as Whistler, EW Godwin and Louis C. Tiffany. It was not without controversy, for by celebrating art separate from morality, the followers of this “cult of beauty” represented a radical departure from the prevailing strict moral codes of the time. The artistic rebellion of the Aesthetes was inherited by such figures as Salvador Dali and David Bowie. And today, the simplicity, and the curated eclectic style of many Aesthetic Movement pieces is surprisingly current.
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Marking a departure from the overly opulent styles of the mid victorian era, the Aesthetic movement sought to create art for art’s sake, and celebrated beauty separate from morality. It’s makers were influenced by the opening of Japan in the 1850’s and later by increased international travel to incorporate the simplicity and forms of eastern art. Some key elements include natural elements such as bamboo leaves, birds, peacock feathers, sunflowers, and the use of bright blues, greens and yellows. Pottery and black or ebonized woods were popular, as well as semi three dimensional carvings and castings.