Blanton’s latest exhibition introduces symbolism to all audiences: no art degree required – Arts


Located on the second floor of the Blanton Museum of Art, the exhibition “Ideas in Sensual Form: The International Symbolist Movement” combines sensory stimulation with questions about the unknown to create an experience for both seasoned and novice audiences.

The woman with figs by Paul Gauguin (Courtesy of the Blanton Museum)

The exhibition’s organizer, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Claire Howard, sought to create a tribute to the ideas of introspection and mystique present in Symbolist art. She was motivated by the desire “to introduce our audience to this lesser-known movement, and to draw conceptual and formal innovations from it.” All these different ideas that circulate in the surrealist movement use symbolism as a touchstone. “

With dark walls and velvet curtains adorning the entrance, the exhibition itself exudes the same sense of mystery parallel to the art it exhibits, giving attendees the chance to immerse themselves in the ambiance of the artistic style.

The experience is not just visual. Howard created a Spotify playlist to enhance the exhibit by mimicking Symbolism’s emphasis on multisensory sensations and offering an exploration of the interdisciplinary nature of Symbolist art.

The Moth of the Islands of the Sea by FM Melchers (Courtesy of the Blanton Museum)

Rather than just mentioning the advancements in music made during the Symbolist movement, Howard says she wanted to “give visitors the opportunity to have an additional sensory experience because Symbolism is so concerned with the merging of the senses.”

For many new to the art world, attending exhibitions can seem daunting, especially when it is not clear whether the exhibitions will be held for people with a deep knowledge of art history.

When creating the exhibit, Howard wanted to maintain a sense of accessibility for artheads and newbies. Rather than using controlling language and terminology, Howard provides additional information throughout the exhibit that can be easily digested by clients, regardless of their prior knowledge of the symbolism.

“I wanted to establish what symbolism is and not assume that anyone knows it,” Howard says. So for those who can’t tell their Monets from their Manets, this one is for you.

“Ideas in Sensual Form: The International Symbolist Movement” runs through March 10 (Tue-Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sun, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.) at the Blanton Museum of Art , 200 E Boulevard MLK Jr. Admission is free every Thursday. For more information visit


Kayleen C. Rice

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