The early phase of the career of this French artist was defined by lithographs and artworks produced in charcoal referred to as “noirs.”
Odilon Redon (1840-1916) made a remarkable career switch shortly after he became famous with his drawings in the 1880s.
His works were mentioned in a popular novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans. in 1884 titled “À Rebours” or “Against the Grain,” something that transformed his peculiar drawings into cult icons.
Born in Bordeaux, Redon came from a rich family and received drawing lessons from an early age. He did fight in the Franco-Prussian War in the early 1870s.
His later works were completed in oils and pastels and exclusively worked with these mediums in the 20th century.
The Symbolist artist developed a keen interest in Hinduism and Buddhism and this interest in Mysticism is reflected in many of his artworks.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most famous paintings by Odilon Redon, one of the most remarkable artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
1. The Cyclops
- Date created: 1914
- Dimensions: 65.8 x 52.7 centimeters (25.9 x 20.7 in)
- Location: Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands
The Cyclops is a painting by Odilon Redon that depicts the mythical cyclops Polyphemus. According to Greek mythology, he was the one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa. According to the story, h falls in love with the beautiful naiad Galatea.
Galatea can be seen sleeping on a hill covered in flowers and the shy cyclops is approaching her from behind the rocky terrain. The huge creature seems to be afraid to get closer to the naked woman, something stressed by the fact that he has a shy smirk on his face.
- Date created: 1910
- Dimensions: 73.9 x 54.9 centimeters (29 x 21.6 inches)
- Locations: MoMA, New York City, United States
Butterflies is a painting by Redon produced during the final part of his life. This was a time that he exclusively completed artworks using either oils or pastels and he had also switched from black and white artworks to colorful paintings.
His subject matter was often little delicate feats of nature such as butterflies or seashells. He managed to paint them in such a way that they transform into dreamlike elements. Yes, Redon believed that art could form a bridge between the material and spiritual world.
- Date created: 1904
- Dimensions: 159.8 x 121.1 centimeters (62.91 x 47.67 inches)
- Locations: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Buddha is the title of one of Redon’s larger paintings. It depicts the Buddha who is sitting in his typical lotus position as he meditates below a tree. This painting emphasizes the keen interest that Redon developed in eastern spirituality, including Hinduism and Buddhism.
What’s remarkable about this artwork is that the Buddha figure almost appears to become part of the tree that he sits under. His face and clothes only slightly radiate in this remarkable composition. The colors used for the background were produced so they could blend into the design of an interior.
4. The Port of Morgat
- Date created: 1883
- Dimensions: 26.99 × 29.53 centimeters (10.62 x 11.62 inches)
- Locations: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, United States
The Port of Morgat is a fascinating work of art in the oeuvre of Odilon Redon. That’s because it was produced in the early 1880s, a time in his career when he mainly focused on creating lithographs and black-and-white drawings.
It was completed in 1883 during his second trip to Brittany on the Atlantic coast in the northwest of France. The artist went on long walks during his stay in this remote part of the country and often brought his notebook to make drawings. The town of Morgat appears to be hidden behind a large rock and boat which make up the foreground of this painting.
5. The Green Vase
- Date created: 1900
- Dimensions: 73.03 x 53.98 centimeters (28.75 x 21.25 inches)
- Location: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, United States
The Green Vase is another painting by Odilon Redon that shows the versatility of the artist. This is one of many still-life paintings that he completed and highlights the shiny green vase in which the flowers rest. The brown table shows a slight reflection of the vase.
The background of this fascinating work of art is equally remarkable as it changes from grey-blue at the bottom to a brownish hue at the top. The painting has traveled quite a bit and has been in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City since it was donated to it in 2015.
6. Evocation of Roussel
- Date created: 1912
- Dimensions: 73 x 54 centimeters (28.75 x 21.25 inches)
- Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., United States
Evocation of Roussel is the title of a painting that highlights the remarkable transition that Odilon Redon went through during his career. It’s hard to believe that the man only painted black-and-white drawings initially after seeing this remarkably colorful work of art.
The focus of the painting is a balding old man who appears to have peach-colored skin. He is surrounded by flowers and the blue sky features apricot-colored clouds. It’s one of the many examples in which the artist applied very thick brushstrokes which are visible in every part of this painting.
- Date created: 1910
- Dimensions: 50 x 65 centimeters (19.6 x 25.5 inches)
- Location: Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, United States
Apparition is the title of yet another painting by Redon that features an abundance of colors. Flowers and butterflies emerge on the left and two hazy figures appear in the bottom right corner of this work. This is a far cry from the anxiety-ridden “noirs” or “black drawings” that he produced over a decade earlier.
Odilon Redon was a Symbolist artist and like many of his paintings, this work aims to reflect the deeper meaning behind things. The figure on the left appears to be motionless while the one on the right is drawing toward the beautiful colors and starts to emit an aureole of light.
8. Baroness Robert de Domecy
- Date created: 1900
- Dimensions: 74 x 68 centimeters (29.13 x 26.77 inches)
- Location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
Baroness Robert de Domecy is the title of a portrait by Odilon Redon that depicts the life of one of his close friends, Baron Robert de Domecy. It’s one of several portraits that the French artist produced of the woman and it clearly emphasizes the incredible talent that he was blessed with.
The woman takes up space on the right side of the painting and was depicted in deep contemplation as she gazes hypnotically toward the left. The mystical colors used by the artist to complete the background add an extra dimension to the painting for both the depicted woman and the viewer.