Redon’s Pavots et Oeillets de Poète… (c.1906)

This glorious painting of poppies and Sweet Williams conveys Odilon Redon's mystical love of both flowers and colors. 

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Captions for image(s) above:

Redon, Pavots et Oeillets de Poète dans un Vase Bleu (c.1906) Oil on canvas. Private Collection

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His oeuvre is awash in eyes, the avenue of sight. They come in all varieties: flying towards the infinite like this one......

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Captions for image(s) above:

Redon, The Eye like a Strange Balloon Moves Towards the Infinite (1882) Lithograph on paper, dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe

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....or diving down under the sea to the subconscious as here.

Did anyone notice, though, that I left the title of the still-life untranslated? No English phrase could do it justice because Sweet Williams, a variety of carnation, are known in French as Oeillets du Poète or "the little eyes of the poet". Redon, a visual poet himself, is painting a flower to which he felt deeply connected.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Redon, Vision sous-meme (c.1900) Pastel on grey paper. Musée d'Orsay, Paris

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Blue appears to have been Redon's favorite color and his self-portraits suggest that his own eyes were either blue or green or, at least, he imagined them as such.

 

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Captions for image(s) above:

Right: Redon, Self-portrait (1880) Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris

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The "blue vase" then, I would hazard a guess, represents through a metamorphosis of visual form the sun-lit blue of Redon's inner eye. Out of it then spring the "little eyelets of the poet", his eye's "children" surging upwards like the balloon-eye on a background the color of unpainted canvas.

See conclusion below.

Captions for image(s) above:

Redon, Pavots et Oeillets de Poète dans un Vase Bleu (c.1906)

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We cannot tell whether Redon associated the poppies in the vase with opium but if he did it would be in keeping with works by other major artists in which alcohol, tobacco or drugs symbolize stimulants for the painter's imagination. Poppies and Sweet Williams in a Blue Vase is a beautiful painting in any language; it's just more meaningful in French.

More Works by Redon

Notes:

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 26 Oct 2012. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.