September 17, 2005

Redon, Again

I’ve mentioned the work of the French artist Odilon Redon before, and that I particularly admire his darkly atmospheric works in charcoal from the late 1870s and early 1880s. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. T_____, I was reunited last week with three boxfuls of books that I’d left behind in storage in England in 2000, at which time I never suspected that the six-month contract I had secured in Sweden would turn into a five-year sojourn. One of these books is a monograph on Redon published to coincide with an exhibition I had visited at the Royal Academy in London, 1995. I’ve scanned a half dozen images from this book:

Cropped view of from 'Mephistopheles,' Odilon Redon, charcoal and black chalk, 1877.


Detail from 'Devil,' Odilon Redon, charcoal, 1877.

The first and fifth of these images were two of thirteen drawings that were exhibited at the galleries of the weekly review La Vie Moderne in Paris in 1881: which was effectively Redon’s first solo exhibition. A second, larger exhibition followed in 1882, again courtesy of the press: it was staged at the telegraph office of the daily newspaper Le Gaulois. The two images directly below were among the twenty-one works on display there.

Cropped view of 'Head of a Martyr,' Odilon Redon, charcoal, 1877.


Cropped view of 'The Metal Ball,' Odilon Redon, charcoal, 1878.
Das Esseintes found himself more particularly drawn to the other works which decorated the room. Those were the pictures bearing the signature: Odilon Redon. They held, between their gold-edged frames of unpolished pearwood, undreamed-of images: a Merovingian-type head, resting upon a cup; a bearded man, reminiscent both of a Buddhist priest and a public orator, touching an enormous cannon-ball with his finger; a dreadful spider with a human face lodged in the centre of its body. Then there were charcoal sketches which delved even deeper into the terrors of fever-ridden dreams… Huysmans, A Rebours (‘Against Nature’), Margaret Mauldon’s translation.
Cropped view of 'Vision,' Odilon Redon, charcoal, 1881.


Detail view of 'Drawing à la Goya (at the Window),' Odilon Redon, charcoal, 1878.

All of the images here are more-or-less cropped & reduced versions of the ones I scanned from the book: click on them to see them larger, and in full

Posted by misteraitch at September 17, 2005 10:14 AM

Redon, is one of my preferred artists.
and i had the opportunity to see a magnificent exhibition of him at Orssey museum - two years ago.
the magic, and the dream like atmosphere, the spirit and the supra-mental powers of his works, never fade, add to it, the rooms where the exhibition takes places- they are with very tender kind of light (not at all like the other spaces in this museum) and it adds to the feeling of entering a shrine, and being in touch with some divine presence.
about the head on the trey image, i would like to know, the name of it, did he have a drawing or a painting that had to do with john the beheading of baptist?

Posted by: moon on September 18, 2005 08:56 PM

moon—in the book I mention above, the full title for the third image is given as Tête de martyr sur une coupe (ou St. Jean).

Posted by: misteraitch on September 18, 2005 10:43 PM

thank you. i was hoping it did refer to st. john. Symbolist (if i'm not mistaken, the artist, was)were occupied and concerned by st john the baptist, but, it was more often Salome who captured their imagination (i can give the example of Aubrey beardsley-with his drawings to Oscar wilde's Salome play, but many others did as well)
some of drawings can be seen here:

Posted by: moon on September 18, 2005 11:27 PM
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