Unholy Terrors, Sinful Temptations, Gods and Monsters
Inspired by Temptation: Odilon Redon and Saint Anthony
July 3–October 20, 2013
Stanford, Calif. — The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents a rare opportunity to view all three lithographic albums that French Symbolist artist Odilon Redon created in response to Gustave Flaubert’s 1874 book The Temptation of Saint Anthony. The albums include a total of 42 individual compositions, all of which are on view in the exhibition “Inspired by Temptation: Odilon Redon and Saint Anthony,” from July 3 through October 20.
The story captured Redon’s artistic imagination like no other work of literature. Redon called it “a literary marvel and a mine.” Based on the legend of a third-century monk who retreated to the Egyptian desert to contemplate God, Flaubert described a single terrible night in which Saint Anthony confronts a succession of unholy terrors, sinful temptations, gods and monsters from myth and centuries of religious tradition.
Like Saint Anthony, Redon was also preoccupied by the mystery of existence and the search for meaning in life. Using the medium of lithography to great effect, Redon’s dark and evocative images are informed by his wide-ranging interests in literature, science, philosophy, the unconscious mind and mysticism, among other subjects. The artist’s genius lies in his ability to create images suggesting multiple interpretations of Flaubert’s text while bringing the human soul vividly to life.
The 1888 album is on loan from the Detroit Institute of Arts, while the 1889 and 1896 albums are in the Cantor’s collection. The 1896 album is a gift of Kirk Edward Long.
The exhibition is made possible through the support of the Halperin Exhibitions Fund.
“Inspired by Temptation” joins five other exhibitions this season, presenting a special opportunity to experience French art at the Cantor Arts Center. The other exhibitions feature prints from the School of Fontainebleau; graphic arts of Édouard Manet and his contemporaries; 400 years of French drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art; old master figure drawings from the Cantor’s collection; and the colorful Jazz portfolio by Henri Matisse.
The Cantor is open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 am–5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm and is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free on weekends and after 4 pm weekdays. Information: 650-723-4177, museum.stanford.edu
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About the Cantor Arts Center
Take a journey around the world: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical to contemporary. There is so much to discover at the Cantor. With 24 galleries plus sculpture gardens, collections that span 5,000 years, a world-famous Rodin collection, changing exhibitions, frequent tours and free programs, there is something for everyone at the Cantor. And admission is free for everyone.
Learn About Odilon Redon
About Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert, (born December 12, 1821, Rouen, France—died May 8, 1880, Croisset), author regarded as the prime mover of the realist school of French literature and best known for his masterpiece, Madame Bovary (1857), a realistic portrayal of bourgeois life, which led to a trial on charges of the novel’s alleged immorality. The composition of The Temptation of Saint Anthony was the work that meant the most to Flaubert. He undertook extensive research and labored obsessively over each word, completing versions in 1849, 1856, and 1872 before publishing the definitive text in 1874.
Cantor’s Special Exhibitions of French Art This Season
• “A Royal Renaissance: School of Fontainebleau Prints from the Kirk Edward Long Collection,” March 27–July 14; the 16th-century grandeur of this royal palace illustrated through 37 engravings and etchings
• “Manet and the Graphic Arts in France, 1860–1880,” June 12–November 17; prints, drawings, and photographs from the decades before and after the Paris Commune of 1871
• “Inspired by Temptation: Odilon Redon and Saint Anthony,” July 3–October 20; a rare look at this artist’s response to Flaubert's 1874 poem The Temptation of Saint Anthony
• “Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art,” July 3–September 22; 55 old master drawings in their only West Coast viewing
• “Drawn to the Body: French Figure Drawings from the Cantor Arts Center Collection,” July 3–September 22; a selection of old master drawings to complement "Storied Past"
• “Matisse Jazz,” July 31–September 22; colorful and lively subject matter with poetic text, 20 prints from Stanford Library’s Special Collections
Learn more about other French shows
Odilon Redon, Here is the Good Goddess, the Idaean mother of the mountains, (detail). Plate 15 of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1896. Lithograph. The Kirk Edward Long Collection, 2010.60.15
Odilon Redon, On all sides, eyeballs blaze (detail), Plate 9 of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1888. Lithograph. Detroit Institute of the Arts, Founders Society Purchase, John S. Newberry Fund, 66.78