For Art Sunday today, Odilon Redon, a favourite artist of mine. He was born April 20th, 1840, in Bordeaux, France and died July 6th, 1916, in Paris. He was a symbolist painter, lithographer, and etcher, of poetic sensitivity and imagination, whose work developed along two divergent lines. His prints explore haunted, fantastic, often macabre themes and foreshadowed the Surrealist and Dadaist movements. His oils and pastels, are chiefly still lives with flowers, which won him the admiration of Henri Matisse and other contemporary painters as an important colourist. His imagination found an intellectual catalyst in his close friend, the Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé. Redon was also associated with the group of Symbolist painters.
Redon produced nearly 200 prints, beginning in 1879 with the lithographs collectively titled ‘In the Dream’. He completed another series (1882) dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, whose poems had been translated into French with great success by Mallarmé and Charles Baudelaire. Rather than illustrating Poe, Redon's lithographs are poems in visual terms, themselves evoking the poet’s world of private torment. There is an evident link to Goya in Redon’s imagery of winged demons and menacing shapes, and one of his series was the ‘Homage to Goya’ (1885).
About the time of the print series ‘The Apocalypse of St. John’ (1889), Redon began devoting himself to painting and colour drawing – sensitive floral studies, and heads that appear to be dreaming or lost in reverie. He developed a unique palette of powdery and pungent hues. Though there is a relationship between his work and that of the Impressionist painters, he opposed both Impressionism and Realism as wholly perceptual.
In 1903 Redon was awarded the medal of the Legion of Honour. His popularity increased when a catalogue of etchings and lithographs was published by André Mellerio in 1913; that same year, he was given the largest single representation at the New York Armory Show. Redon died on July 6, 1916. In 1923 Mellerio published Odilon Redon: ‘Peintre Dessinateur et Graveur’. An archive of Mellerio’s papers is held by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In the YouTube video below, you’ll notice that I mainly used images of Odilon Redon to illustrate the song by Alkinoos Ioannidis. His drawings and paintings seemed to fit the lyrics so well, that it was almost inevitable to choose them when I was considering what to use as a backdrop to the music and lyrics. Enjoy!