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Trees on a yellow Background

Odilon Redon1901

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Redon's art had changed radically since the early 1890s. He had abandoned lithography and the charcoal of his famous Noirs in order to draw in pastel and to paint with vivid colours. It is hardly surprising that this evolution finally brought him to decorative art, a genre that preoccupied artists throughout the late 19th century.

Redon was of the same generation as the Impressionists. In 1876, Monet decorated the château of his friend Ernest Hoschedé, whereas Renoir never stopped thinking "decoration" and "gaiety on bare walls". Redon was, moreover, an admirer of Puvis de Chavannes. He was also very close to the young Nabi painters, who insisted that art should be part of daily life. In this, they subscribed to the theory of the writer and critic Albert Aurier: "there are no paintings, there is only decoration".

It was thanks to an early commission that Redon started to work on large surfaces in 1900-1901, completing around fifteen panels for the château that Baron Robert de Domecy had just had built in the Yonne region. On that occasion, he wrote to his friend Albert Bonger "I am covering the walls of a dining room with flowers, flowers of dreams, fauna of the imagination; all in large panels, treated with a bit of everything, distemper, "aoline", oil, even with pastel which is giving good results at the moment, a giant pastel."

In 1902, he designed a decoration for the music room of the Paris mansion of composer Ernest Chausson's widow. Then, in 1908, the Gobelins Manufactory commissioned him to do some tapestry cartoons. But the library at Fontfroide would be Redon's great decorative work.

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