In Odilon Redon: La littérature et la musique, the Kröller-Müller Museum sheds new light on the oeuvre of French artist Odilon Redon (Bordeaux 1840-Paris 1916). With a large number of paintings, pastels, drawings and lithographs, the exhibition shows the important role that literature and music play in Redon’s life and work.
Redon finds his inspiration in literary and musical sources, from classical antiquity to Richard Wagner. The exhibition demonstrates this based on a series of specific themes, such as the winged horse (Pegasus) or his depiction of women, who appear as both a symbol of beauty (Béatrice) and in the shape of the femme fatale (Salomé). Redon uses these themes time and again, gives them changing forms and always provides them with new meanings and associations.
His admiration for Wagner is apparent in his depictions of Brünnhilde and Parsifal, among other things. But the link with music is usually not so literal and he is more interested in evoking a mood. His contemporaries often describe his work in terms of a musical experience, while he refers to himself as a ‘peintre symphonique’.
‘My drawings inspire and do not provide definitions. They do not determine anything. Just like music they place us within an ambiguous world of the indeterminate.’ (A –soi-même, 1961)
(Photo: Courtesy of Kröller Müller)