The prints were not meant as illustrations of Poe's poems, but rather as "correspondences," to use Redon's term. His visionary works concern the world of dreams, fantasy, and the imagination. ", "The artist ... will always be a special, isolated, solitary agent with an innate sense of organizing matter. Here he portrays the sitter amidst an abstract floral background. He first became famous for his noirs series, monochromatic compositions that exploit the expressive and suggestive powers of the color black. The butterflies, as Redon said, were meant to be creatures of light that appeared out of the "chrysalis of the dark." Yet the ambiguousness of the figure's gender must be acknowledged, and is yet another signifier of the depicted detachment from the material world. [Internet]. Severed heads appear with great frequency in Symbolist art and literature, whether in stories of Salome or in more mysterious images such as this one. The artist often regretted that he was not born at sea, "a place without a country on an abyss," which he perhaps felt would have better corresponded to the origins of his visionary sensibility, This work could thus be seen as representing a kind of alternative birth for Redon, signifying his awakening artistic consciousness. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined. The native South Americans on display, which Redon described as "haughty, cruel and grotesque," had a profound if complicated impact on the artist: on the one hand he admired the purity and simplicity of the so-called "primitive" people, while on the other he recognized in them the fearsome barbarity of man's origins. The tan paper ground has been allowed to stand in for her skin, and its muted tones accord with her serious, withdrawn expression, as if she is lost in her own thoughts. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet. As scholar and curator Jodi Hauptman writes, "floating up 'towards infinity', let loose from the limitations of body and mind, Redon's eyes are free to really see, beyond reality, beyond nature, beyond the visible." Here, though, the palette is still quite subtle. Galatea's body curled to the side, her face sleeping partially hidden by her overreaching arm, suggests privacy, a turning to the inner world of dreams. Severed heads appear with great frequency in Symbolist art and literature, whether in stories of Salome or in more mysterious images such as this one. Sita, c. 1893 Odilon Redon; At the Circus: Work in the Ring, 1899 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; The Beacon, 1883, reworked c. 1893 Odilon Redon; Portrait of Ari Redon, c. 1898 Odilon Redon; Melancholy, 1876 Odilon Redon; Ophelia, 1906 Odilon Redon; Sleeping Man, c. 1890 Henry Stacy Marks; The Anniversary (Homage to Hector Berlioz), 1877 Henri Fantin-Latour With its realistic depiction of dreamlike imagery, The Guardian Spirit of the Waters anticipates 20th-century Surrealism. Redon would have an enormous impact on the art of his contemporaries, such as Paul Gauguin, as well as later modern artists like Marcel Duchamp. Meanwhile, the print's giant eyeball prefigures the extreme close-up of the sliced oculus in Luis Bunuel's Surrealist film, Un Chien Andalou. Several small butterflies hover around the bouquet. This is one of several portraits that Redon painted of the wife of his friend and patron, the Baron de Domecy. Several musicians also appear, including Robert Schumann, the composer Déodat de Séverac, and pianist Ricardo Viñes. ©2020 The Art Story Foundation. Likewise, the profusion of floral motifs - which appear more decorative than real - gives the setting a dreamlike appearance, perhaps symbolizing her vivid interior life. Because of his ill health, perhaps due to epilepsy, Redon was entrusted to his uncle's care and grew up in Peyrelebade in the Medoc region of France on the family's winemaking estate. However, Redon also characterized himself as a "sad and weak child," who "sought out the shadows." ", "With pastel I have recovered the hope of giving my dreams greater plasticity...Colors contain a joy which relaxes me; besides, they sway me toward something different and new.". [Internet]. One of the main themes in Redon's oeuvre is the decapitated or disembodied head. A man's head emerges from a flowerpot, his neck rising upward like the stalk of a strange hybrid plant. 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