Odilon Redon, quickly (What a lovely, musical name!)

My fascination with Odilon Redon began when I learned that he almost exclusively produced black and white works (charcoal drawings and lithographs) until the 1890s, when he started working in color pastels and oils.  By 1900, he was no longer producing what he called “Noirs” (his monochrome drawings and prints) (meaning black, in French). I know that artists often change and develop — their style, their media — through their careers.  But this always seemed to me to be such a pronounced difference.  From this:

Odilon Redon, Vision, 1883, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

To this:

Odilon Redon, Bouquet of Wild Flowers, c. 1900, Private Collection

Quickly, Redon (1840-1916) was a Symbolist painter and printmaker, which means that he was more interested in basing his art on imagination than on what he actually saw in front of him; he chose imagination over realism.  Continue reading


The Al-Aqsa Mosque: A Quick Reminiscence (and a little bit of history)

I’m writing a post about the Dome of the Rock, but I’m stuck.  It’s not good when you’re boring even yourself, though how anyone could make the Dome of the Rock boring is mind-boggling.  So I’m taking a break from that and wanted to share a little bit of history and a short reminiscence about the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa Mosque, 11th century, Jerusalem

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, is definitely overshadowed by its neighbor, the Dome of the Rock. When I visited, the Dome of the Rock, –so beautiful, so rich in history, so significant to Islam — felt like a tourist site, while the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque felt like a religious site. It was the first mosque I entered in my life, and I was overwhelmed by the quiet, my bare feet on the carpets, slightly annoyed but respectfully covering my head, feeling somewhat exotic with bare feet and a scarf over my head. After the noise of tourists in the Dome of the Rock — the explosion of color from the mosaics, the wonder and fascination elicited by the rock — the Al-Aqsa mosque was calm, and cool, and soothing.  And a great introduction to Islam. (I’ll come back to this.) Continue reading