Smiling Spider by Odilon Redon

Smiling Spider by Odilon Redon

When you look at this spider, Joris Karl Huysmans’ sensational novel “On the contrary”, or rather, the bedroom of Dezensent, the main character of this work, is immediately recalled. As the reader probably remembers, it was decorated with a picture that depicted a terrible spider with a human face. In addition, it is possible to assume that in the “Smiling Spider” Redon reflected not only his own visions, but also his own ideas about evolution.

In the second half of the 19th century, the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, according to which all life forms on Earth are closely interconnected with each other, and higher organisms evolved from the lower ones, captured the minds of Europeans. This theory led to the idea that in the course of evolution, Nature could create some “intermediate”, “hybrid” specimens, which later turned out to be unviable. In the light of such assumptions, a spider with a human face did not seem so fantastic.

We add that Redo-s imagination could have been whipped up by “monsters from a microscope,” since the microscope fascination was general in those years.

As for the Redon spider, it scares not so much with “anthropomorphism” as with its magnitude. The “head” of a spider resembles severed heads, often found in other “black” characters of our release.

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