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Odilon Redon Works Biography


French, b. 1840 – c. 1916

Odilon Redon was a French Symbolist artist known for his pastels, prints, and paintings. He depicted a variety of motifs, including dreams, floral still lifes, landscapes, and mythological scenes. “My originality consists in bringing to life, in a human way, improbable beings and making them live according to the laws and probability,” he once said.

Born Bertrand-Jean Redon on April 20, 1840 in Bordeaux, France, he studied with the artist Stanislas Gorin as a teenager. Gorin introduced him to the works of Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Gustave Moreau. On his father’s wishes, Redon planned to study architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, but failed the entrance exam. However, he remained in the city, reading the literary works of Gustave Flaubert, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Baudelaire, and briefly studying painting under Jean-Léon Gérôme. In 1865, he returned to his family home in Bordeaux and where he learned etching and lithography from the eccentric artist Rodolphe Bresdin. Returning to Paris in 1871, Redon worked exclusively in black and white until the 1890s. This sudden use of bright color is attributable to his close friendships with Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis. He died on July 6, 1916 in Paris, France. In 2018, Redon’s still life Fleurs set an auction record for the artist when it sold for $4,092,500 at Christies.

Today, his works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery in London, among others.

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