What Was Delacroix Doing?

Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine:

Prepare to grapple with the cosmic grandiosity and optical hot-messes of that 19th-century French freak of painterly nature, Eugène Delacroix, who’s churning, turgid, crimson-tinged floridity has enkindled the respiratory systems of artists since he first debuted at the Paris Salon of 1822 — and given many others agita.

Now, at the Met, comes the first large-scale North American retrospective of his epoch-altering work. How did it alter his epoch? Delacroix’s style is so uncontained, convulsive, and atmospheric it’s hard to pigeonhole as simply Romanticism. At times I often look at his painting and mourn the death of his extraordinary comrade, Théodore Géricault, he of the 1819 Raft of the Medusa, as this artist might have made French Romanticism less flamboyant and easier to take had he not died before the age of 33. Delacroix pushed much harder, which means that his work is more demanding and hard to digest, even now, but, as a result, he is one of the most influential artists of the last two centuries.

more here.