Cirlot J.C. Dictionary of Symbols



Cirlot J.C. Dictionary of Symbols
30.01.2012 в 12:22 6 Мб pdf 4 раза
Routledge, 1990. - 508 pages.

The unvarying essential meanings of around 1,000 symbols and symbolic themes commonly found in the art, literature and thought of all cultures through the ages are clarified.

In the Introduction to this volume Se?or Cirlot shows his wide and learned conception of the subject-matter of this dictionary, and the only task left to me is to present the author himself, who has been familiar to me for some years as the leading protagonist of a very vital group of painters and poets in Barcelona. Juan Eduardo Cirlot was born in Barcelona in 1916, and after matriculating from the College of the Jesuits there, studied music. From 1943 onwards he was active as a poet, and published four volumes of verse between 1946 and 1953. Meanwhile
the group of painters and poets already mentioned had been fo rmed (Dau al Set), and Cirlot became its leading theoretician. For historical or political reasons, Spain had been slow to develop a contemporary movement in the arts comparable to those in other European countries; its greatest artists, Picasso and Mir?, had identified themselves with the School of Paris. But now a vigorous and independent ‘School of Barcelona’ was to emerge, with Antonio Tapies and Modesto Cuixart as its outstanding representatives. In a series of books and brochures Cirlot not only presented the individual artists of this group, but also instructed the Spanish public in the history and theoretical foundations of the modern movement as a whole.

In the course of this critical activity Se?or Cirlot inevitably became aware of the ‘symbolist ethos’ of modern art. A symbolic element is present in all art, in so far as art is subject to psychological interpretation. But in so far as art has evolved in our time away from the representation of an objective reality towards the expression of subjective states of feeling, to that extent it has become a wholly symbolic art, and it was perhaps the necessity for a clarification of this function
in art which led Se?or Cirlot to his profound study of symbolism in all its aspects.

The result is a volume which can either be used as a work of reference, or simply read for pleasure and instruction. There are many entries in this dictionary — those on Architecture, Colour, Cross, Graphics, Mandala, Numbers, Serpent, Water, Zodiac, to give a few examples —which can be read as independent essays.

But in general the greatest use of the volume will be for the elucidation of those many symbols which we encounter in the arts and in the history of ideas. Man, it has been said, is a symbolizing animal; it is evident that at no stage in the development of civilization has man been able to dispense with symbols. Science and technology have not freed man from his dependence on symbols: indeed, it might be argued that they have increased his need for them. In any case, symbology itself is now a science, and this volume is a necessary instrument in its study.

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