P29 – Research 3 – Odilon Redon

I am not always clear why certain artists are selected for research on this course. At first glance at the selection of works on Bridgeman Education Library, Redon painted a lot of vases of flowers which would be lucky to get in the local art club show.


Geraniums in a Pot c.1905

[From wikipaintings – NOT Bridgeman Education!]

However his ‘noirs’ show more of the tonal work which has been studied at this stage of the course.

Bertrand-Jean Redon, who was born in 1840, acquired the nickname Odilon from his mother Odile. He drew as a child, even winning a prize at school. Aged fifteen, he began the formal study of drawing, but on the insistence of his father he changed to architecture. His failure to pass the entrance exams at Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts ended any plans for a career as an architect.

After the Franco-Prussian War, in which he fought, he moved to Paris from Bordeaux, working almost exclusively in charcoal and lithography. He called his visionary works, conceived in shades of black, his ‘noirs’.

[Image numbered BRM349533 removed and I can’t find it now on the Bridgeman Education site to give a link. Sorry, but it was an excellent drawing, believe me.]

Trees and Stars (charcoal)


“I am still the great Isis” plate 16 from “The Temptation of St. Anthony (lithograph)

[From wikipaintings – NOT Bridgeman Education!]

He was a symbolist, a group believed that art should represent absolute truths that could only be described indirectly. Jean Moréas, a Greek symbolist writer, announced that symbolism was hostile to “plain meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description”, and that its goal instead was to “clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form”.

Redon himself described his work in similar terms: “My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.”


Eye (Charcoal on paper)

[NOT from Bridgeman Education!]


“The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity” 1882 (Charcoal)

[NOT from Bridgeman Education!]


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
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2 Responses to P29 – Research 3 – Odilon Redon

  1. clinock says:

    “They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.” Must admit I prefer Redon to Caulfield and this phrase sums up why. Caulfield’s technique is brilliant but to me his work is cold and too ruler driven. I like to see evidence of the human hand in paintings and drawings and to this Redon adds a dreamlike quality that speaks to the mysterious that I look for in art…Your instructor has chosen a varied and interesting mix of artists for research…

  2. Amazingly (to me at least!) there is one of Redon’s flower paintings at auction with an estimate of 1.2 to 1.8 million dollars. I wouldn’t give it house room!

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