A U G U S T 16,    2011

The artist Odilon Redon(1840 – 1916) is a case apart in the history of fin-de-ciècle art.  A contemporary of the Impressionists (he contributed to their last exhibition in 1886), Redon remained the most notable artist who at the time of Realism and Objectivism engaged in art based on mysticism and the subconscious. As a leading fin-de-ciècle artist Redon was a key figure in early Symbolism with his charcoal drawings and lithographs of the “noir” period (his famous “noirs”), and subsequently was admired by the younger generation of the Nabis group and Fauves for his pastels and paintings.  Still later he was recognized as one of the forerunners of Surrealism.

For many decades Redon’s works evoked huge interest, which has of late picked up. His exhibitions were held with great success in Chicago and London in 1994 and in Frankfurt in 2007. The present retrospective staged at the Grand Palais, Paris, from March 23 to June 20, 2011, offered the first ever comprehensive picture of Redon’s legacy since the 1956 exhibition at the Orangerie (Paris). A great many of heretofore unpublished documents were studied to shed new light on Redon’s work put on display. The repeated reference to the livre de raison, into which the artist put down the names and dates of his works, whetted public interest. The livre de raison is also on show and was published as a supplement to the catalogue.



Some 170 paintings, pastels and drawings, many of which were not published earlier, about a hundred engravings and lithographs are displayed in the chronological order, making it possible to trace the evolution of Redon’s method and style.

Organized by the National Museum Union (RNM), Musée d’Orsay (Paris) and Musée Fabre (Montpellier) with special support from the National Library of France, the exhibition was prepared with great care and love for the artist. What is more, the show itself became a sort of homage to Odilon Redon and a serious phenomenon from the point of view of exhibition space organization. Redon’s favorite and trademark colors were used in arranging the display, and even the flooring and mounts for works were chosen to match the general gamut of the exposition. In addition to that, furniture l in the dominant color palette was made specifically for the exhibition. Curators and exposition artists surpassed themselves in creating a special atmosphere of unity with Redon’s works. The rooms have just enough light to immerse visitors in the magical world of the artist. The light is neither blinding nor dazzling, and at the same time there is no feeling of a grim cave where you have to stare hard at the walls to see anything. Needless to say, a wonderful catalogue has been published for the exhibition in several formats, including a compact Euroformat.

The Musée Fabre of Montpellier in Southern France will host the exhibition from July 7 to October 16, 2011. To coincide with the exhibition, the Fontfroide Abbey library, for which Redon did panels in 1911, will be open for visits.





Odilon Redon. Prince du Rêve. 1840-1916. Musée d’Orsay, 2011