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Posts Tagged ‘August Renoir’

RenoirPianoFlip

Let’s try to save this painting.  In this L-R flip you can see that the dominant lines all move from left to right, in other words up.  Connect the candles and your eye moves up.  The keyboard and the music sheet move up.  The trim on the dress draws your eye up.  Since we feel “up” as, well, “up,” this flipped version carries some optimism with it.  The woman’s hands are still the same dead pink blur, but the lines draw our attention to her rosy cheeks and we’re temped to feel some hope for her life taking a more energetic turn.  But, no, I see no hope here.  The plant in the upper right–which could serve as a symbol of life, after all–is dead dead dead.  The whole figure defines a dreary triangle, immobile despite the little ripple at the bottom—too little, too late, too far down in the composition and therefore, plunk, also dead dead dead.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was admired by his contemporaries for his depiction of female flesh.  Even my favorite art critic, Robert Hughes, admires Renoir nudes for their “pearly luster,”  or some such phrase.  We’ll have to look at those some other time.

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RenoirPiano

This is a good time to visit the Art Institute of Chicago because you won’t have to even glance at Renoir’s “Woman at the Piano” as you pass through the Impressionist Gallery just off the staircase.  Lifeless, insipid.  Notice the pink hands on the piano keys, no energy there at all.  They look wilted and dead, like something shredded and overcooked. Flounder?  Flop, drip, melt.  I can’t relate to this tired image at all, except to learn from it’s failure.

I’ve made an effort to see it as a plea on Renoir’s part to let women out of the house once in a while—it was painted in 1875, when respectable women, the kind who would have a piano in the house, were actually encouraged to stay inside as much as possible and if they had to leave, to take a parasol as protection against the sun, that awful bright daylight.

This is the first post on the topic of taking time to look at art you don’t like, first mentioned in post 2.23.13.

Next, I’ll flip this boring and bored woman left-right in the hope of finding something there.

This painting in now on loan at the Met for the exhibit “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” which will be there til May 27.   http://www.metmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/listings/2013/impressionism-fashion-modernity

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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121108LinesBad1Looking at art you don’t like is a valuable exercise.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but I recommend that you get yourself a library book that contains your most loathed paintings, pour yourself a favorite drink and ensconce yourself with this picture book in a soft pile of cushions in the corner of your couch. You’re scrutinizing the image of this loathsome work of art and at the same time you’re introspecting, observing what happens in your imagination.  What chain reaction of associations does this image unleash?  Do it one evening, just set aside an hour for this weird exercise.  Then rest a few days and repeat.

Here are the seven line drawings that do not feel right. (See previous post for the five good ones).  Btw, the ratio of 5 good to 7 bad is about right.  I expected a higher number to turn out bad.  Remember, these drawings took only a few seconds, were done without revisions or corrections, one after the other.

You can start your meditation on bad art right here with these line drawings. (Click for enlargements.)

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In the next post,perhaps I should reproduce some of my favorite loathsome works by such luminaries as Max Beckmann,  Richard Diebenkorn, Pablo Picasso and August Renoir.  Would I dare?

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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