-By William O’Connor
‘Oedipus and the Sphinx’, 1864
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

In the world of Dark Fantasy Art it is difficult to find a more definitive progenitor than the painter Gustave Moreau (1826 –1898)

Moreau rendered images of both classical and biblical scenes with a dark and almost primitive style, coming to represent the pinnacle of the Symbolist Art movement in France in the nineteenth century.  His figures were not idealized as rosy skinned nymphs or fleshy cherubs.  His landscapes were not filled with verdant forests and bright flowers, but rather he depicted a dark and psychologically nightmarish oeuvre.  With a brown palette and Egyptian-esque style, his earthy designs would be influential to a generations of artists who came after him.  Not only as a professor at the Ecole d’Beaux Arts to Matisse and the Fauvists, but also as the inspiration of the Surrealists in the 1920’s, and the dark Minotaur series of Picasso. 

I had the pleasure several years ago of seeing the Moreau retrospective at The Art Institute of Chicago and his haunting paintings have remained with me to this day.  Although Moreau is not often included in the standard canon of art history, I think he is an artist worth taking a second look at.

Enjoy.  Go Forth and Learn.


See also: William Blake, Klimt, Watts, Ensor

‘Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra’ , 1875
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago USA

‘Cleopatra’, 1887
Louvre, Paris France

‘Jupiter and Semele’, 1895
‘The Minotaur’, By Pablo Picasso

Text © William O’Connor Studios 2013.  All images used for educational and editorial purposes as per the US Copyright Code of Fair Use.