“Sentence of Paris” by Max Klinger
Decadence (from French decadence or from Latin decadentia – decadence) is a direction in literature and art of the late XIX – early XX centuries, characterized by resistance to public “philistine” morality, a cult of beauty as a self-sufficient value, which often goes along with the aesthetization of sin and vice, dual experiences of aversion to life and skillful enjoyment of it. Decadence is one of the central concepts in the criticism of F. Nietzsche’s culture, which linked decadence to the increasing role of the intellect and the weakening of the original life instincts, “the will to power”. The decadence period is saturated with hopelessness, disappointment, a decline in vitality and aesthetics.
The concept of decadence first appeared in France in the 18th century, and was associated with the names of the writers Charles Louis de Montesquieu and Desiree Nisard, it was a sign of new artistic trends that rejected positivist doctrines in art, an illusory academism. The creators thereby wanted to overcome the crisis period by creating new aesthetic and ethical values, which proceeded from the foundations of a completely new “philosophy of life”, which resurrected both irrational principles and the criteria for the unity of the world, in this aspect decadence resonates with symbolism. Continue reading