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Odilon Redon - The Cyclops

by Alexandra Tuschka

It belongs to the most famous paintings of symbolism: the Cyclops by Redon, created around 1914. The viewer's gaze is immediately drawn to the one-eyed creature, which looks out from behind a mountain. This motif goes back to the Metamorphoses of Ovid. The giant is called Polyphemus; the nymph who has caught his attention is Galatea. She lolls naked and pleasurably in the right corner of the picture, embedding various natural elements.

The girl almost seems to be carried up by the colorful and vibrant flowers that surround her. The massive Cyclops is not lucky in love - Galatea loves Acis. Out of jealousy, Polyphemus smashes her lover on a rock. More than 20 years earlier, Gustave Moraeu had also chosen the same motif. Possibly this work served Redon as inspiration.

Around the same time, Redon himself created the "Eye Balloon," which has compositional similarities to our work. Here an eye, which directs its gaze towards the sky, hovers above a landscape. With a little imagination, this eye can also be called a "cyclops".

Odilon Redon - The Cyclops

Oil on canvas, Around 1914, 64 x 51 cm, Museum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo


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