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Odilon Redon

Dec. 4–30, 2018

The Vault

Odilon Redon, <i>Oannès: I, the First Consciousness of Chaos, Arose from the Abyss to Harden Matter, to Regulate Form</i> from <i>The Temptation of Saint Anthony</i>, 1896. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, purchase, funded by the Garrison Memorial.

Odilon Redon, Oannès: I, the First Consciousness of Chaos, Arose from the Abyss to Harden Matter, to Regulate Form from The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1896. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, purchase, funded by the Garrison Memorial.

This work was selected by Erin Kurth (class of 2020), who explains: “I was captivated by how Odilon Redon was able to use black-and-white lithography to convey an image with so much depth and mystery. I found myself fascinated by Redon’s obsession with Gustave Flaubert’s Temptation of St. Anthony (a nineteenth-century literary work which was also of great interest to Freud) and his efforts to capture every piece of its bizarre and intricate narrative in his many lithographs on the subject. Oannès, the central subject, appears in Mesopotamian literature as a creature who brought mankind wisdom. Redon’s use of negative space evokes feelings of the abyss and the unknown, while the snakelike body with the humanoid head is simultaneously mesmerizing and horrifying. With its closed eyes, the figure, though unseeing, retains a feeling of omniscience.”

The Vault

The Vault, which also houses some of the works from our permanent collection, is dedicated to featuring and displaying works chosen by MSU students who work at the museum. Each month, one of our student gallery guides selects a piece from our collection and writes a short text explaining why they chose it and believe it should be displayed. By providing our gallery guides with an opportunity to participate in the curatorial process of selection and display, we aim to open a dialogue with the student community while simultaneously sharing with the public works from the collection that would otherwise remain in storage.