Essay on The Cyclops and Its Significance

Essay on The Cyclops and Its Significance

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A symbolist of the late 1800’s, the abstracted works of Odilon Redon contain a sense of mystery and somberness that accentuate the connections they have to their traditionally darker themes. A “prince of dreams” and a “creator of nightmares,” Redon’s later works have been known for their expressive, whimsical colors and unique abstract style. The Cyclops (circa 1898), a painting from Redon’s later works, is a prime example of such skilled crafting and in a way was the stepping stone towards his signature colorful pastels and paintings. If one were to examine Redon’s older body of work, it would give them a better understanding of how this artist came about his meticulous ideas and how The Cyclops was in a way, a prototype to Redon’s future works.
The Cyclops is an oil painting on wood dated circa 1898, and is part of the Kröller-Müller Museum’s collection. The painting’s theme references Greek literature of the unrequited desires of the Cyclops Polyphemus towards the sea nymph Galatea. In the composition, the Cyclops stands in the background overlooking the figure of a woman laying in the foreground. The application of impasto and broad ranges of color are dominant in this piece, creating contrasts between the subjects and their setting. The two figures are related through the use of yellow and gold pigments against the predominantly blue environment that halos them, yet they are separated by the strong band of purple that divides the painting; it’s as if a visual barrier denies the Cyclops’ feelings. The Cyclops takes on a sense of naivety with his juvenile expression of curiosity and peaceful blue sky while the woman is surrounded by busy color play and looks away with her head bent down; seemingly lackadaisical, p...

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..., Redon, Seurat, and the Symbolists (New York, N.Y.: McCall Publishing Company, 1970) 5
McCall Collection, Redon, Seurat, and the Symbolists (New York, N.Y.: McCall Publishing Company) 5
The Museum of Modern Art, Odilon, Gustave [and] Rudolphe(Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc.,) 39
Katharine Grant Sterne, “Odilon Redon Viewed Again.” Parnassus, Vol. 3, No. 3 (March, 1931): 8-12 + 60
D. W. Druick, Cézanne to Picasso (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)87
D. W. Druick, Cézanne to Picasso (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)87
K. Berger “The Pastels of Odilon Redon.” College Art Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Autumn, 1956): 23-33
K. Berger “The Pastels of Odilon Redon.” College Art Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Autumn, 1956): 23-33
Douglas W. Druick ... [et al.], Odilon Redon: prince of dreams, 1840-1916 (New York: HN Abrams, Inc., 1994)

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