Into the Primeval Slime: Body and Self in Redon's Evolutionary Universe

Martha Lucy


Odilon Redon’s 1883 album of lithographs, Les Origines, is a fantastic, often nightmarish, vision of the origins of the universe. While the album has often been discussed in connection with Redon’s interest in science and evolution, this essay argues that Les Origines articulates a major historical shift in our conception of body and self, making it one of the most radical and modern expressions of its time. Throughout the album, Redon reminds us of the body’s demoted status under evolutionary law: always between categories, always incomplete, the evolutionary body is a desiring body that wants to be but that never fully is.


Redon; Les Origines

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