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11 February 2012 – 29 April 2012

This spring, Fundación MAPFRE Madrid is hosting the first ever retrospective in Spain dedicated to French painter Odilon Redon.

Odilon Redon  Ojos cerrados  1890

Odilon Redon (Bordeaux 1840 – Paris 1916) was a painter of the imaginary and the subconscious and a renowned naturalist. In 1886 he exhibited works alongside the Impressionists but did not share their aesthetic. Seen as a ‘marginal’ artist at the time, he nevertheless played a fundamental role in the genesis of modern art. His works are today represented in many of the world’s major museums, but at the turn of the century he was one of the least known artists despite being such a major artistic figure of the era.Following a major retrospective held at the Grand Palais, Paris and Musée Fabre, Montpellier in 2011 the exhibition celebrates the artist’s highly original and important oeuvre. The exhibition at Fundación MAPFRE is not a repetition of the French show. It presents 170 works by Redon, only 60 of which were presented at the Grand Palais and Musée Fabre. It also includes one late self portrait, loaned from a private collection and never seen before by the public.

The exhibitionPresented at Fundación MAPFRE’s Salas Recoletos site, this major survey traces Odilon Redon’s trajectory from his early apprenticeship with Rodolphe Bresdin through to the development of his symbolist Noirs series, up until the explosion of colour in his large decorative panels and mythological scenes such as the incandescent Carré d’Appollon. Such an extraordinary shift from dark to light within an artist’s oeuvre cannot be found elsewhere in art history. This evolution is portrayed through the 170 works on show in this exhibition, including oils, works on paper, etchings, decorative panels and sketches for textiles.

The exhibition has been put together by two experts on Odilon Redon: Dr Rodolphe Rapetti, Chief Curator of the exhibition and researcher at the Institute National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, and art historian Dr Fred Leeman. Several major institutions collaborated with Fundación MAPFRE to make the exhibition possible. The Musée d’Orsay, Paris has loaned several major works. Further support came from the Gemeentemuseum de la Haye, owner of a complete series of lithographs by Redon. Loans were also made by the Musée Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Musée de Beaux Arts de Bordeaux and the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany as well as various private collections.

The exhibition Odilon Redon in Madrid is divided into chronological segments. It begins with a glimpse at the artist’s early studies of nature, in particular his landscapes from the South of France. The exhibition continues on the ground floor by exploring the artist’s interior world, as represented in his Noirs: charcoal and lithographies, including the series Dans la rêve, Edgar Poe and Les Origines du Monde, the latter revealing Redon’s fascination for Darwinism. His admiration for the drawings of Francisco de Goya – who lived for 20 years in Redon’s native Bordeaux – is especially apparent in the collection of lithographs Hommage à Goya.

On the first floor of the exhibition, the exhibition layout recreates the sensation of the passage from dark to light. Redon’s famous dining room for the Château de Domecy is recreated, with its subtle, floral universe spread across some 15 decorative panels. The artist’s obsession with the interior self and an ‘imaginary paradise’ appears as a repetitive trope in Yeux Clos.

A new and unseen addition to this exhibition – not shown at the Grand Palais exhibition in Paris – is the Autoportrait, a fascinating sanguine self portrait which captures Redon’s mastership, painted in a few years before he died, in 1910. It is part of a private collection, and this is the first time it goes on public view.

Entry to this exhibition, as with all exhibitions at Fundación MAPFRE, is free and open to all.


11 February 2012 – 29 April 2012

Opening Hours


Paseo de Recoletos 23
28004 Madrid

Press Conference

Thursday 09 February 2012 at 12:00PM

Paseo de Recoletos 23
28000 Madrid




Press Office

Marina BradburyAGENDA / 31 rue Ballu 75009 Paris+33 1 49 95 08