Jul 10, 2007

Symbolic Head

Symbolic Head

c. 1890

Odilon Redon

(French, 1840-1916)

Oil on paper mounted on canvas

Framed: 69 x 54.5 x 7.5 cm (27 3/16 x 21 7/16 x 2 15/16 in.); Unframed: 53.3 x 38 cm (21 x 14 15/16 in.)

Gift of the Mildred Andrews Fund 1988.91


Did you know?

Symbolism was a reaction against Realism and Redon is one of the most important artists affiliated with this movement. The symbolist painters used mystical dreamlike images that were highly personal in their work.


One of Redon’s favorite themes was a head depicted in profile, sometimes separated from the body to symbolize the spirit released from the material world. It also suggests a metaphor for abandoning physical reality for the inner realm of dreams, fantasy, and poetic reverie. This painting conveys the idea of inward-turning vision by framing the head in a series of collapsing rectangles. Conservation analysis confirms that the figure is a woman wearing a helmet and holding a green staff in her right hand.

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