Odilon Redon (Bertrand-Jean Redon) was a French Expressionist/Symbolist painter and pastel artist whose career in the latter half of the 19th Century was marked by restless experimentation with spare compositions, intense colors and blurred images that suggest more than they reveal.
His dreamlike excursions into shifting mists of color and soft suggestions of form and emotion anticipated the Surrealists fascination with dreams and unconscious imagery.
His textured pastels, often collisions of half hidden shapes and lost edges, presaged the break up of naturalistic forms into geometry that would herald Cubism; and his brilliant intense clashes of undiluted color bridged Impressionism and Fauvism.
Redon was also a lithographer, working in dramatic black and white works that seem to have emotional color under their surface, waiting to be released.
He originally failed his entrance examinations for the École des Beaux-Arts, but later was admitted and studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme. In sharp contrast to Gérôme’s precise renderings, Redon’s images often blend recognizable forms with passages that dissolve into ambiguous intimations of subjects, vague hints of objects and scenes whose definition is left to be filled in by the viewer’s subconscious.