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Symbolic Images/Objects

Daniel Sinsel
Untitled, 2021
Oil on linen, glass, wire
128.1 x 154.1 x 3 cm (50 3/8 x 60 5/8 x 1 1/8 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Jason Haam. Photo by Sangtae Kim

Symbolic objects have dual functions; one that is in a literal sense and the other that represents something other than what can be seen, which can also be abstract. In art, symbolic objects often appear to add layers to the narrative. Common symbolic objects such as skulls and bones can be found in the famous Vanitas - Still Life (1699) by Edward Collier, with skulls symbolizing mortality and ephemerality, as well as inner contemplation and life beyond the visible.

Symbolic objects and figures make up a symbolic image to represent a deeper meaning beyond the immediate encounter with the artwork. Symbolic images are employed by artists to reflect the real world themes such as life, love, fear and death.

The term symbolism was introduced in 1886 by Jean Moréas to describe the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine. Since then it was applied to art to describe the real world including nature; through this process, artists moved away from impressionism and realism, where the depiction was more realistic.

Related categories

Self-Portrait

Figures in Nature

Still Life

Commemoration / Mourning

Image Production/Reproduction/Transformation

Unconsciousness / Subconsciousness

Introspection / Meditation

Reality and Fantasy / Illusion / Imagination

Abstraction

Found Objects

Religious Symbols

Fruits/Flowers

Surrealism

Faux Naïf

(Inspired by) Folk Tales/Myths

Food/Drinks

Psychedelic Art

Hybrid Creatures

Diptych

Triptych

Renaissance Art