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Flore d’Odilon Redon

The flowers of a mysterious and fantastic painter


Although he was born in 1840 and a contemporary of the Impressionists who filled their canvases with vibrant colors, Odilon Redon’s painting career began with monochrome lithographs he called his “Noirs.” These featured bleak landscapes and surrealistic plants with human eyes and heads, suggesting dark delusions. Raised separately from his parents as a boy, and unable to meet their expectations that he become an architect, Redon developed his talent through exchanges with the wandering lithographer Rodolphe Bresdin and the private botanist Armand Clavaud. He surely saw the world through different eyes from ordinary people.

rudon_2After gaining recognition for his blacks, from around age 40 Redon gradually began to work with colors, including oil and pastels. His woman floating in the air with flowers seems to be lost in a dream with her eyes closed. His painting of butterflies among flowers is purposely unclear, making it difficult to tell which are the butterflies and which are the flowers. Redon’s works blur the lines between the real and the imaginary.

His giant pastel Grand Bouquet, on a vertical canvas measuring about 2.5 by 1.6 meters, was painted to decorate the castle of the Baron Robert de Domecy. The fragrance of these unimaginably huge, fully blooming flowers seems to waft from the painting, creating another dreamy and fantastic scene. This is a rare opportunity to see this and Redon’s 15 other existing decorative paintings in one space. One can imagine the baron sitting in front of these paintings, sipping from his wine glass. Keep this image in mind as you enjoy the exhibition.

(Text: Naoko Aono)

Flore d’Odilon Redon
Dates: February 8 (Thurs) – May 20 (Sun), 2018
Venue: Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo
2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Times: 10:00 – 18:00 (open until 21:00 on Fridays, second Wednesdays, and weekdays last week of exhibition, except holidays); Closed Mondays (open February 26, March 26, May 14)
Admission: 1700 yen
Contact: (Hello Dial)

Eyes Closed, after 1900, oil on canvas, The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
Grand Bouquet, 1901, pastel, canvas, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo


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