Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Golden Cell

Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
La Cellule d'Or 1892
"A rendering of the invisible"
Drawing in oil and metallic paint
301.000 mm x 247.000 mm
British Museum, London

In 1894 it was seen by Tatiana Tolstoy, the daughter of the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who noted in her diary: 'One of them whose name I could not make out-something like Redon-had painted a face in blue profile. On the whole face there is only this blue tone, with white-of-lead.'

Tolstoy quoted this in his diatribe against contemporary art, 'What is Art?', first published in 1898, as irrefutable evidence of the degenerancy of modern art.

La Cellule d'Or ('The Golden Cell') suggests introspection.

The blue and gold halo are the traditional colours of the Virgin Mary, but no further religious message intrudes.