Posts Tagged ‘Symbolist’

Odilon Redon- The Cyclops 1914I am certain about what I will never do – but not about what my art will render.

–Odilon Redon


When I came across this quote from the great French Symbolist painter/printmaker Odilon Redon, I found myself nodding in agreement.  There are many things I know that I will never do with my work mainly because these things don’t inspire me to take the time to make the effort.  But about those things where I do make the the effort,  I am never quite sure where they will take me or how they will surprise me or how they will reach out to others in ways I never imagined.

And that is the thing, the driving force, that keeps me coming back to this studio each morning: the hope that this will be the day that brings that next surprise, that next thing that remains a wonder to myself.

By the way, you should really take a few moments and check out the work of Odilon Redilon.  He was one of the most influential painters around the turn of the 20th century and set the groundwork for a lot of modern movements.  Plus, his prints and paintings are just plain interesting to take in, with a mysterious twist and symbolism that feels both psychological and spiritual.  The eye in the sky is a recurring form in his work as you see in the painting at the top, The Cyclops.  His one-eyed creature has a different feel than that of the more terrifying one in Homer’s Odyssey.  Redon’s has an almost protective, paternal feel.  It feels odd but inviting.

Here is a site ( click here)with most of his known paintings although not much if any  of his print work.  It’s worth a look.

Odilon Redon - Eye  Balloon-1898 Odilon Redon Flower Clouds 1903

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Frantisek Kupka was another one of those supremely talented painters from the late 19th/early 20th century who is little known outside the world of museums these days.  You probably won’t stumble across a Kupka calendar or mousepad.  But when I  see the scope and quality of his work I wonder why.  I know I hadn’t heard of him when I first came across his work in a book of Symbolist paintings.  I saw this image shown here, Resistance or The Dark Idol, and was immediately struck by the tension and drama in its mysterious setting.  I was surprised when I saw his other work that was beautifully colored and striking in other ways.

Kupka- The Yellow Scale (1907 Self Portrait)

Frantisek Kupka was a Czech painter who was born in 1871 and died in 1957 in France.  His career saw his work move from the early symbolic work to pure abstraction.  In fact, Kupka is considered one of the founding members of  the group, Abstraction-Creation, that set off the abstract movement.  While I found much of his abstract work beautiful, it was the early work that really pulled me in.  It was obvious that he could have worked extraordinarily well in any style he chose.  But his relative anonymity remains a mystery to me.  Perhaps he never had that one  iconic image or series that became associated with his name.  Monet’s water lillies.  Van Gogh’s starry night.  Gauguin’s Tahiti. Whistler’s mom.

I don’t know the whys behind this.  But his talent is no mystery at all.  It is evident in every piece I have come across. 

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