There follow images of some of the works in charcoal and chalk by French painter and graphic artist Odilon Redon (1840-1916). These, together with some of his darkly monochrome lithographs, have been collectively dubbed noirs.
Redon was a late starter who, after numerous setbacks and false starts, gradually began to find a style of his own from the mid 1870s. It wasn’t until 1879, and the publication of his first album of lithographs Dans le Rêve that Redon’s work began to attract wider attention.
Many of his most fervent admirers were writers, and a good deal of his inspiration was, reciprocally, literary: he published lithographs inspired by Poe, and, later by Flaubert’s Tentation de Saint Antoine. He was lauded by Huysmans, and was a close friend of Mallarmé’s.
Only in the 1890s did Redon’s pallette admit the full spectrum of colour, supplanting the sombre melancholy of his earlier work with a vibrant mysticism. As though making up for those black-and-white years, many of these later pieces, those in pastel especially, positively glow with colour - as I can personally attest, having been lucky enough to catch the 1995 Redon exhibition during its stop at the Royal Academy in London.