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Odilon Redon : “Symbolic Head” (c. 1890)

Archival Inkjet on Matte Finish Fine Art Paper

The Ibis’s giclée process uses archival pigment inks on 100% cotton rag paper to achieve crisp detail and rich, lasting color. Unlike posters, they will not yellow with time, but will maintain their original quality for as long as you own them. If you are unhappy with your print for any reason, you are welcome to return it for a full refund.

One of Redon’s favorite themes of the 1880s and 1890s was a human head depicted in profile. This motif came from his representations of severed heads, often carried aloft on wings, published in the artist’s first album of prints, Dans le rêve (1879). In these images, the separation of the head from the body symbolizes 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. Redon isolated the head even further by painting a horizontal rectangle or “ledge” over the lower part of the figure’s body, which originally extended to the bottom edge of the composition. Conservation analysis confirms that the figure is a woman wearing a helmet and holding a green staff in her right hand. However, her exact identity is not known, largely because after altering the crest and other aspects of the helmet, Redon abandoned the painting in an unresolved state.

Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.

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