From the "black era" to the "color era", Odilon Redon

The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu opened in November 1982. The core of the museum's collection of Western art is the works of Odilon Redon (1840-1916), one of the most important French Symbolist painters, and it's a group of works that are important worldwide.

The Death of Orpheus (c.1905-10) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Odilon Redon developed the black world of charcoal and lithographs in the first half of his painting career, and since the 1890s he has transformed into a painter of pastel or oil paintings. 

Concern for the Absolute… Philosopher (1880) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Search for the Absolute… Philosopher, REDON, Odilon, 1880

Odilon Redon, who started out as an artist expressing the original world of "Les Noirs", continued to create charcoal and lithographs in black. 

Search for the Absolute… Philosopher, REDON, Odilon, 1880

 In this work, in which various symbolic figures are intricately related, “... a grotesque and bizarre character, hand on chin, eyes anxious and inquiring; he is wearing a cap with bells and a frock coat. 

Search for the Absolute… Philosopher, REDON, Odilon, 1880

Perched on a mountaintop in the shadow of the night, a non-equilateral triangle overlaps the radiant, black sun”*, according to Redon's record.

* Source: Le « Livre de raison » d'Odilon Redon(CD-ROM), Odilon Redon: prince du rêve, 1840-1916, Paris, Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais, Musée d’Orsay, 2011

Flower of Marsh by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

The Marsh Flower, REDON, Odilon

A strange imaginary creature with a human face that bulges round on a thin stem. Redon's unique image of living creatures reveals not only traditional iconography since the Middle Ages, but also the influence of the botanist Armand Clavaud, who he encountered during his youth, and his interest in comparative anatomy. 

The Marsh Flower,  REDON, Odilon

The dark and stagnant swamps are reminiscent of the swamps of the area called "Les Landes" where Redon spent his childhood in Peyrelebade.

The Balloon (1883) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

The Balloon, REDON, Odilon, 1883

Invented at the end of the 18th century, and used pragmatically and as an attraction for expositions throughout the 19th century, the balloon enthused people as a realization of the dream of flying in the sky of mankind. It became a symbol of the times, longing for the age of scientific universalism.

The Balloon, REDON, Odilon, 1883

In this charcoal drawing, produced in 1883, the balloon is shaped like a light bulb, which has gradually become widespread throughout the city of Paris since the late 19th century. The image illuminated in the sphere is a profile that symbolizes the light of enlightenment.

Mystical Conversation (c.1896) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Mystical Conversation, REDON, Odilon, c.1896

From around 1890, Redon's work changed to a style that embraced mystery in vibrant colors. This work was developed from the lithograph of the same theme in 1892, and two women who look like shrine maidens engaged in religious ceremonies stand side by side under a column against the blue sky covered with rosy clouds. 

Mystical Conversation, REDON, Odilon, c.1896

The red branches are strikingly eye-catching as the fantastic flowers gently color the work. An old collection of Baron de Domecy, one of Redon's most important collectors.

Closed Eyes (after 1900) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Closed Eyes, REDON, Odilon, after 1900

"Closed Eyes" is a theme that Redon created particularly, inspired by religious paintings. Around 1890, his early "Closed Eyes", made with his oil paintings and lithographs, had a simple composition in which the head of the woman who closed her eyes emerged above the horizon. 

Closed Eyes, REDON, Odilon, after 1900

This image, however, was later colored with fantastic flowers like this oil painting. It is a work that makes us feel kindness as well as spirituality.

Portrait of Paule Gobillard (1900) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Portrait of Paule Gobillard, REDON, Odilon , 1900

This beautiful pastel painting is almost the first portrait that Redon modeled on a person other than his family. The female model, Paule Gobillard, was the niece of the Impressionist female painter Berthe Morisot, an amateur painter who was taught by her aunt and P.-A. Renoir. 

Portrait of Paule Gobillard, REDON, Odilon, 1900

Around this time, Paule and Mr. and Mrs. Redon, who were in their early thirties, had a close relationship with each other, and in the summer when this portrait was drawn, Paule was staying at a villa rented by the couple at the mouth of Gironde.

Screen for Olivier Sainsère (1903) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Screen for Olivier Sainsère, REDON, Odilon, 1903

A folding screen made-to-order by Olivier Sainsère, a French government official and a wealthy art lover. Based on the sketches of real wildflowers, they are transformed into mysterious flowers that live quietly in mysterious lands. 

Screen for Olivier Sainsère, REDON, Odilon, 1903

This is an example of decorative art that Redon challenged in his later years, and this folding screen shows the influence of Japonisme (Japanese taste) that was popular especially in Europe in the late 19th century. It is reminiscent of the folding screen paintings of the Rimpa and Kano schools.

Flowers in a Blue Vase (c.1904) by REDON, OdilonOriginal Source: collection datebase

Flowers in a Blue Vase, REDON, Odilon, c.1904

An old collection of Baron de Domecy, an important collector of Redon. Since around 1900, Redon has been producing many works featuring flowers in vase. Flowers were his most in-demand subject until his later years.

Flowers in a Blue Vase, REDON, Odilon, c.1904

Redon's flower paintings are characterized by the coexistence and fusion of real wild flowers and flowers in the painter's fantasy. Even in this work, in an ambiguous space where the vase is placed is not specified, flowers invite the viewer to a world that is indistinguishable from reality and fantasy.

Around the main gate of The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu

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