Odilon Redon

Dates1840 - 1916

Odilon Redon's career spanned many of the most important art movements of the late 1800s. He exhibited with the Impressionists in 1886, with Les XX in Brussels, and was regarded as a leading Symbolist artist. Before committing to a career in the visual arts in the early 1870s, Redon studied architecture, music, literature, and art criticism. His earliest works, charcoal drawings characterized by mystery, melancholy, and fantasy, were championed by contemporary authors like Stéphane Mallarmé and Joris-Karl Huysmans. Redon's own interest in literature was reflected in his art. He produced drawings and lithographs inspired by the work of Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, and others.

Until about 1890, Redon was known almost exclusively for his monochromatic work. But his creative energies gradually moved toward color, and by 1900 he mostly produced oil paintings and pastels. As his art became more colorful, it also became more decorative, leading to commissions for screens and murals. He also produced decorative ensembles, the most ambitious being eighteen panels for the dining room of Baron de Domecy, a long-standing patron. But despite Redon's shifting interests, his fundamental aesthetic remained unchanged. Redon insisted on reference to nature, but nature filtered through memory and imagination, producing dream-like forms and dazzling surfaces.