“Renoir Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie: The Early Years” at Kunstmuseum Basel

Posted filed underImpressionism, Shows.


From April 1 to August 12, 2012, the spectacular exhibition Renoir. Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie: The Early Years at the Kunstmuseum Basel will focus on the underappreciated early work of the great painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919). Fifty paintings—portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, among them masterworks from the collections of major museums such as the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the National Gallery, London, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as virtually unknown works from private collections, form a magnificent panorama of the formative years of Renoir’s art. Pierre-Auguste Renoir was among the French painters who founded Impressionism. With a light palette, loose brushwork, and motifs from modern urban life and leisurely amusements in natural settings, he and his fellow innovators wrote art history. The painter’s Impressionist period and his late work have subsequently tended to eclipse other parts of his oeuvre. He has been celebrated as the “painter of happiness,” but that has also been a cliché to which he was reduced.. The Kunstmuseum Basel now presents a grand survey exhibition, the first show ever to emphasize the artist’s outstanding and surprisingly complex early work, up to and including the eminent Impressionist paintings of the 1870s. Renoir’s most important model during these first years of his career was his lover, Lise Tréhot. Their relationship lasted from 1865 to 1872. Lise sat for a series of important early works in which he staged her in a wide variety of roles and pictorial genres. This group of paintings constitutes a highlight of the exhibition. The two illegitimate children who issued from the relationship with Lise were given up for adoption—a fact that the artist kept secret throughout his life and that puts a new complexion on the ostensibly perfect idylls in his pictures of pairs of lovers and mothers with children. Portraits of his friends and fellow artists Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley form another distinct group. Renoir’s own contribution to Impressionism is most clearly apparent in his landscapes, especially those of the countryside around Paris, and in his scenes of la vie moderne. The period from the mid-1860s to the late 1870s is defined by extraordinary social, political, and artistic developments. The tensions between bohemia and the bourgeoisie, two milieus in which Renoir moved, are readily apparent in his oeuvre. He experienced the political seachanges from the conservative climate of the Second Empire to the revolution of the Paris Commune and hence to the Third Republic, even as he avoided involvement in these conflicts whenever possible. A young artist’s chances of achieving visibility depended on his work being shown in the Salon. Renoir and his fellow Impressionists rebelled against that institution by organizing exhibitions of their own. In the late 1870s, however, as his work slowly found official recognition, his attitude toward the Salon grew friendlier as well. Renoir’s early work lets us trace his evolution as an artist in fascinating paintings. Paintings from this period reflect the growing range of his pictorial imagination as he spent many days studying the paintings at the Louvre, but also took in the revolutionary innovations of his time: the realism of Gustave Courbet, the Barbizon school’s en plein air painting, and the inspirations he received from Édouard Manet and Claude Monet, his closest artistic associates at the time.

Unique Film of Pierre-Auguste Renoir Painting

This is unique footage of the great Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). He is seen at home, working on a canvas.

Renoir – Private life of a Masterpiece (BBC)

About “Dance at the Moulin de la Galette” (1876). Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Renoir and the Woman of Paris: Lecture by Anne Distel (07 Mar 2012)

In characterizing Renoirs art, Czanne once said that his old friend had painted the woman of Paris. Czannes insight provides the point of departure for this lecture, which takes a closer look at Renoirs female figures.

Renoir and the Democracy of Fashion – Lecture by Professor Aileen Ribeiro (March 2012)

The period after the fall of the Second Empire in France saw huge developments in the fashion industry, not just in haute couture, but also in the greater availability of ready-to-wear clothes and in the emergence of Paris’s shopping culture. More people than ever before expressed an interest in fashion trends, a phenomenon that was reflected in contemporary art and literature. This lecture explores some of the ways in which Renoir depicted fashion and fabrics in his paintings of the 1870s and 1880s.