Artibus et Historiae no. 25 (XIII)

1992, ISSN 0391-9064

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VOJTECH JIRAT-WASIUTYƃSKI - The Balloon as Metaphor in the Early Work of Odilon Redon

In Odilon Redon's early work, balloons function as visual metaphors for the human need to transcend earthly existence as part of a spiritual quest, as posited by esoteric mysticism. This article argues that the artist was aware of the major developments in aerostation, which were closely linked with French national history, for the different balloon types are reflected in his drawings and prints; and that he may have drawn on firsthand knowledge of balloons for two early images, analyzed here in detail. Rather than use traditional religious or mythological imagery, Redon turned to the hot-air balloon because it was a particularly topical and modern image in the 1870s.

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