Flower Clouds (c. 1903) by Odilon Redon

Flower Clouds - Odilon Redon - 1903

Artwork Information

TitleFlower Clouds
ArtistOdilon Redon
MediumPastel on Paper
Dimensions44.5 x 54.2 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, US

About Flower Clouds

The artwork “Flower Clouds” was created by the artist Odilon Redon in 1903. This piece is a fine example of the Symbolist movement, executed in pastel on paper. It measures approximately 44.5 by 54.2 centimeters and is currently housed at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The genre of this artwork is considered to be a cloudscape.

“Flower Clouds” by Odilon Redon is a compelling composition that draws the viewer into a dreamlike vision where the natural world converges with the fantastical. In the artwork, one can observe a sailboat tranquil upon the water, with its single, large sail catching the light. A solitary figure is discerned seated in the boat, seemingly lost in contemplation or perhaps steering the vessel. The surrounding environment is ablaze with vibrant color—the clouds above are rendered in striking hues of orange, yellow, and blue, intermingled with subtle whispers of other colors to create a tapestry-like effect in the sky. These chromatic clouds give the impression of flowers blossoming in the firmament, lending the artwork its evocative title.

Shifts in color and texture across the artwork suggest a play of light and movement, drawing the viewer’s eyes across the canvas and emphasizing the ephemeral qualities of the clouds and their reflection in the water. Redon’s use of pastel allows for soft yet luminous transitions of tone and an almost tactile quality to the layered colors. As a Symbolist work, the image likely transcends literal depiction, instead offering a more esoteric or philosophical meditation, perhaps on the intersection of the human experience with the sublime forces of nature. The precise brushwork combined with the diffuse edges of the colorful masses creates a juxtaposition of clarity and obscurity, enhancing the work’s enigmatic allure.

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