Odilon Redon was a French Symbolist artist known for his pastels, prints, and paintings. “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. 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 where he learned etching and lithography. 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. 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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