ODILON REDON (1840-1916)


Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916) was a painter and printmaker associated with the Symbolist movement and best known for his dream-like charcoal drawings, lithographs, and pastel drawings. After studying printmaking under Rodolphe Bresdin (French, 1822–1885), Redon produced a series of charcoal drawings called Noirs, which he translated into Dans le rêve, a book of lithographs published in 1979. His single lithographs and albums, published between 1979 and 1899, used gillotage, a newly developed technique that turned a lithographic plate into a relief block and contributed to the revival of the Fine Art print. Redon's fantastical and melancholic imagery, often accompanied by titles and captions, allied his aesthetic with literary figures such as Charles Baudelaire (French, 1821–1867), Edgar Allen Poe and Stéphane Mallarmé.

In the 1890s, Redon began exploring the imagery of the Noirs in color before giving up lithography entirely after the turn of the century to focus on oil paintings and pastels. One of a series of works based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, the pastel drawing Ophelia Among the Flowers (1905) depicts an ambiguous species of flower and resembles the still-lifes of the Symbolist painter Paul Gaugin. Rodin completed several commissions in decorative art, including a series of paintings for the library at Fontfroide Abbey. One of these decorations, Day (1910), is characteristic of Redon's flower paintings, while Night (1911) juxtaposes a colorful background with black figures reminiscent of his Noirs. A key figure in the Symbolist movement, Redon was also admired by the Nabis and the next generation of Post-Impressionist artists. His work is currently held in many museum collections, including the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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