Art born from the disingenuous

The most radical force in art is not, as most people assume, genius, inspiration or sheer talent, it is instead a lack of technical ability. Combined with a strong desire to be an artist, this can prove to be a powerful driver of change and innovation, as revealed by “Odilon Redon: The Origins of the Fantasies” at the Sompo Japan Museum of Art.

The exhibition takes a long, slow look at the artist, first exploring the artistic milieu of Bordeaux, his hometown, with paintings by the naval artist Stanislas Gorin, botanical drawings by Armand Clavaud, and print works by Rodolphe Bresdin, a draughtsman and engraver who loved to crowd his works with strange details.

All three played an important role in the young Redon’s development — or lack of it. At the age of 15 in 1855, he began his artistic training by

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