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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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