The literary creed of Aestheticism was much in fashion at the times of Oscar Wilde and he fully embraced its philosophy of the central importance of art in life. The Aesthetic Movement encompassed the visual arts,the decorative arts and literature. "Art for art's sake implies the autonomy of art and artist, the rejection of didactic aim and the refusal to subject art to moral or social judgements"(Tindall 5).Art should have no spiritual meaning or message. "A work of art should be judged by beauty alone."(Tindall 7) Basil Hallaward speaks about an abstract art in "The Picture of Dorian Gray":"Art is always more abstract than we fancy. Form and colour tell us of form and colour-that is all."(Wilde 132) .
Art for art's sake, which flowered during the 1880s and the 1890s in the works of Wilde,Moore and Symons had many roots in the past."Its ultimate origins were in the German romantic philosophers and in Keats and Poe. Rossetti, isolated from society, revived Keats and offered an art without moral or social purpose. Morris, desolated by the ugliness around him, tried to restore beauty to useful things. Gautier in , Baudelaire in his poems and in his preface to Poe, and Flaubert in his novels illustrated or recommended art for art's sake."( Tindall 7).
Oscar Wilde discovered beauty at Oxford where he studied under the two great art critics of the Victorian age, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. Pater's injuction "to know one's impression as it really is" underlies Aestheticism's guiding principle: the sole function of art is to inspire an emotion or create a mood.
Oscar Wilde rejects nature and establishes the superiority of art. In his essay "The Decay of Lying", Wilde sustains that "Life imitates art" and that art never expresses anything but itself. "Art is so independent of common morality that it is immoral, so superior to nature that it is artificial, so remote from subject matter that it expresses nothing but itself.