Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Impressionism (pt. 12)

Although his style may have mimicked Monet's, Renoir painted a different kind of Impressionism which I think continues on most prevalently to this day.  The artist chose Modern, everyday scenes and subjects (like a flâneur), unlike Monet's focus on purely technical elements (his subjects, remember, were twenty-some-odd haystacks, some water lilies, the face of a church building painted thirty times over, etc.).  Renoir, like Manet, focused more on people, the social life within Paris and the common centers of metropolitan popularity.  However, unlike Manet, he delighted in showing the joyful side of life.  His paintings typically do not show poignant and sad images of bar waitresses or prostitutes; they more often depict the happy partygoers, the socialites, the bons viveurs among the central urban patrons.  This more lighthearted approach to subject matter further inspired the artist to paint with whimsically capricious brushstrokes.  It better showed the frivolity of the people within the scenes he was painting, such as this scene of a Luncheon of the Boating Party.
Pictured here is a party scene of a group of people lounging about and conversing on the balcony of a restaurant in Paris.  It is a merry scene.  There is food and wine strewn out on the table, and everybody appears either pleasantly preoccupied in conversation or content in idle relaxation.  The scene itself is cluttered with figures, facing this way and that, some with their mouths open in mid-sentence, others in the middle of drinking a sip of wine.  There is liveliness to this painting as it recreates a kind of split-second, candid snapshot of the party.  Furthermore, these were all people who Renoir knew.  On the far right is fellow Impressionist artist Gustave Caillebotte.  Above him, in the upper right corner of the painting are two of Renoir's close friends.  On the far left (the seated woman playing with the little dog) is the artist's future wife.  These are Renoir's friends and acquaintances, and this is their casual, social lifestyle of cheerful merriment and partying.  Modern life, too, had its themes of idleness to be noted.

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