The year 1884 saw the appearance in Paris of a fin de siecle cult novel that was celebrated as an altogether perverse sensation on the European cultural scene. The title of the book was "A Rebours" (translated both as "Against the Grain" and "Against Nature"). Its author Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote it as a seductive textbook of decadence, as an antidote to 'banal' naturalism or realism. Symbolism, whose influence was felt well into the modernist era, was an artistic religion-substitute, a spiritually charged cult of beauty. A Symbolist picture or sculpture is mysterious on purpose. In place of intellectual comprehension, the work seeks to have the beholder experience its mysterious depth like a vision. It is no wonder that Symbolists created some of the most fascinating artworks of their age. Each book in Taschen's "Basic Genre Series" features: a detailed introduction with approximately 35 photographs, plus a timeline of the most important events (political, cultural, scientific, etc.) that took place during the time period; and a selection of the most important works of the epoch; each is presented on a 2-page spread with a full-page image and, on the facing page, a description/interpretation of the work and brief biography of the artist as well as additional information such as a reference work, portrait of the artist, and/or citations.
Norbert Wolf gratuated in art history, linguistics and medieval studies at the universities of Regensburg and Munich. He took his doctorate in art history in 1983. In 1992 he wrote his professorial thesis in Munich on carved 14th-century retables. Subsequently he held visiting professorships in Marburg, Frankfurt a.M., Leipzig, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg-Erlangen, and Innsbruck. He has written extensively on art history, including the many titles for TASCHEN, such as Diego Velazquez, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Caspar David Friedrich, Expressionism, Romanesque, Landscape Painting.