Odilon Redon‘s artwork is extraordinarily unique and hard to describe. Whether working in colorful pastels, watercolors, or stark charcoal drawings, the images he created are remarkably vivid and dreamlike. Shifting in styles and genres from Post-Impressionism to Symbolism, his art is saturated with an emotional intensity that seems almost prophetic of future art movements such as Expressionism and Surrealism, yet he doesn’t seem to belong to any single movement. Rather, Redon’s skill was transcending the boundaries of what had come before and exploring what was yet to come, all the while journeying inward to a place of psychological conflict and spiritual awakening.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau is perhaps one of the great heroes of the Academic art movement. His works are vividly brought to life in a manner that is at once realistic and yet also idealized. While Bouguereau confined himself to the traditional Victorian values of Academicism and Realism, the images that he managed to create during his lifetime are iconic and timeless, though he has not been treated as kindly as his contemporaries by many art historians. Often drawing on themes of gentle eroticism, the juxtaposition of beautiful women with nature, and the bittersweet reminisces of childhood, Bouguereau painted in a way that could be emotionally evocative in its realistic depiction of everyday life, but also dreamily intoxicating in the way that he romanticized human sexuality and sexual innocence.
M.C. Escher is one of those artists who is impossible to categorize. His works don’t possess the typically inherent emotions of most art movements. His art is far more procedural, intellectual, and precise in its purpose. Many of his works are woodcuts done entirely in black and white, yet his works are as complex and unforgettable as those of artists who pour the full spectrum of colors onto their canvases with paint. What Escher does is present viewers with works of art that are at once restrained in their expression of emotions, but at the same time are provocative and mentally stimulating. One could half-jokingly say that looking at an M.C. Escher print is like doing mathematical gymnastics with your eyes and brain.