Redon, Odilon (1840–1916) By Handler, Sophie
Odilon Redon was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, etcher, and pastellist. His ability to master various materials and techniques has often left him associated with no single oeuvre or style in particular. Nevertheless, Redon is chiefly considered a key visual artist of the Symbolism movement. His fierce rejection of realism, passionate endorsement of self-consciousness, and his interest in the relationship between image and text cemented Redon as a significant though often underestimated contributor to modernism. Redon’s belief that images should function equally well with or without text established the artist as a provider of a new form of illustration, which operated as a sort of visual stimulant more profound than mere words. Furthermore, the modernist tendency towards scrupulous and somewhat masochistic analyses of every aspect of existence, often manifested in aesthetic introspection, is clear in both Redon’s dreamy yet disturbing artwork and his journal entitled À Soi-même [To Oneself] (1867–1915). His relationship with key French writers, such as Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé, and his production of increasingly surreal and abstract artwork resulted in his adoption by a plethora of modernist movements, including art nouveau, Surrealism, Expressionism and Fauvism.