Aestheticism

DEFINITION

The belief that the pursuit of beauty is the most important goal, and that it is the artist's duty to orchestrate selected elements from nature into a composition that, like music, exists for its own sake, without regard to moral or didactic issues. Prominent in the nineteenth century, now it often carries the connotation of decadence or preciousness. Also spelled estheticism. It is often associated with the fin de si?cle circle of writer Oscar Wilde (English, born Ireland, 1854-1900), painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903), and illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (English, 1872-1898).

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