Symbolic Composition


Artworks containing objects and figures that, when viewed together, imply symbolic meaning, such as in Albrecht Dürer's iconic Melencolia I (1514), which includes a group of objects—a sleeping dog, a sphere, and a bell, among others—the meanings of which historians have endlessly debated. The incorporation of symbols with ambiguous meanings was a primary feature of Surrealism; these fluid signs were thought to tap into a well of intuitive meaning stemming from dreams and the unconscious.

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