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Moreover, the findings have proven that many of Redon's works on paper are much more stable than traditionally thought to be, reflecting Redon's own concerns about the potential fragility of the media in which he worked.The materials used by Redon to create his noirs changed during the course of his career as he became increasingly aware of the variety of black drawing media available to him.For centuries this material was valued for its ability to adhere readily to paper fibers, whereas ordinary charcoal particles tend to sit on the paper surface remaining powdery and vulnerable to smudging.In Redon's noirs, oiled charcoal can be identified by its warmer brown-black tone, and under magnification, by the coarse particle size of the charcoal and a halo around each drawn line.Fabricated black chalk, a much harder and blacker medium than the various charcoals used by the artist, was introduced in the mid-to-late 1870's, at which time he also began to use compressed charcoal more extensively.
Now, based on changes of pattern in the artist's use of materials and techniques a clearer picture of his development has emerged.
Under magnification, the fixative invariably coats the media and the paper fibers heavily, insuring stability.
In addition to insuring the stability of his drawings by the liberal use of fixative, Redon also used oiled charcoal extensively.
Equally important in terms of the retrospective was whether the artist's use of materials has resulted in works which, today, are sufficiently stable to warrant responsible requests for exhibition loan.
The research began with the study of a large body of works on paper by Redon in Chicago collections.