Odilon Redon and James Ensor: between Symbol and Individual
Friday, 03/07/2014 > Free admission > No registration
Symposium in Kunstmuseum Basel
Situated between the outwardly directed lust for observation of the realists and the preference for self-observation of the romantics, symbolism remains in many ways the paradigmatic avant-garde movement: with manifestoes, publicity-addicted dandies, openness to Asian art and popular religion and festival, all rolled up in literary exclusiveness, the symbolists crafted a contradictory model and countermodel for art and critique well into postmodernity. Perhaps that’s why the term remains opaque, despite striking personalities and oeuvres like those of Odilon Redon and James Ensor: the bounds between the visionary and the conventional are blurry, as is the international significance of often ironical provincials and their contribution to the comparative, global art history being developed at fin-de-siècle.
Can we think the art history of the end of the nineteenth century anew? Should we start with the contrast between painterly self-invention and partisan mythmaking in the life and work of artists like Ensor and Redon? Do deeper aspects of modernism, as Pierre Francastel and Alois Riegl have suggested, for instance radical subjectivism in aesthetics and morality, betray symbolist traces? Or is the “movement” just a diversion masking irreconcilable differences among post-impressionist painters? Our symposium takes its inspiration from individual works and texts, without forgetting puzzling phenomena like repetition, appropriation, experiment and abstraction.
The symposium accompanies the Redon exhibition in the Fondation Beyeler and the Ensor exhibition in the Kunstmuseum Basel.
Symposium in Kunstmuseum Basel:
9:00 a.m. Greetings by the curators, Raphaël Bouvier (FB) and Nina Zimmer (KM)
9:15 a.m. Ralph Ubl, eikones and University of Basel: Introduction
9:30 a.m. André Dombrowski: What Symbolism Was Not
10:30 a.m. Michael Zimmermann: Religion, Evolution and Nirvana: Redon’ s Moved Seeing and Flaubert’s Tentation de Saint-Antoine
11:30 a.m. Herwig Todts: The Relationship between Redon and Ensor
12:30 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch break, chance to see the Ensor Exhibition
2:15 p.m. Ina Dinter: “In my Work I perceive a Great Unity.” Repetition and Experiment in James Ensor’s Late Work
3:15 p.m. Andrei Pop: Petit drame symbolique: Ensor, Redon, and Theory of Perception
4:15 p.m. General Discussion
5:00 p.m. Move to Fondation Beyeler, Chance to see the Redon Exhibition
7:00 p.m. Evening lecture in the Fondation Beyeler:
Dario Gamboni: Redon — Ensor — Poïesis