Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916)
Odilon Redon’s early pieces were drawings in charcoal, the so-called 'noirs.' Even after 1878, when he began to use lithography as a method of reproducing his drawings, his works initially remained black and white. The second phase began during the 1880s when color became a means of expression. In 1900 he made a complete break in favor of color. Alongside the charcoal drawing “The Dream” and the lithographic series “The Temptation of St. Anthony” inspired by Gustave Flaubert's work, the 1905 painting “The Chariot of Apollo” stands out as a masterpiece. Redon completed several variants on this theme between 1905 and 1910. The picture in Neuss is a manifesto of Redon's convictions about the power of color. Using color symbolism the painter designed his work as a stupendous victory of light over dark. The precise interplay, strong contrasts and delicate transitions, and above all the effect of depth of the colors make the piece a major work of French painting around 1900. Not the representation of reality, but the pure color values are central here, making Redon one of the main representatives of Symbolism, as well as a predecessor of the Expressionists and Surrealists.