2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Knopff, Schopenhauer and the Symbolist Ideal
Lauren R. Greenspan
Prof. Shirley McKamie and Dr. Patricia Burton, Faculty Mentors

The early metaphors of Symbolist painter Fernand Knopff make it clear that he admired and adhered to the pessimistic aesthetics of Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauers magnum opus The World as Will and Representation espouses the doctrine that the human Will is a thing in itself which aimlessly seeks its own perpetuation through desire, which is the source of all sorrow. This process, termed Willing, is temporarily suspended when an individual encounters a work of art or has an aesthetic experience. Escape, for both Schopenhauer and Knopff, was therefore of primary importance in art. Furthermore, both men viewed the material realm as illusory and sought higher ends through the transcendental powers wielded by musicians, writers, and artists. This phenomenon of the Ideal, I argue, is at the core of the Symbolist movement and the understanding of Knopffs aesthetic theory and finds its roots in the philosophy of Schopenhauer.

Keywords: Knopff , Schopenhauer, Symbolism, Ideal

Topic(s):Art History
Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 21-2
Location: VH 1324
Time: 9:45

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