Carried over from Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation to Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the “Renoir Father and Son” exhibition explores how Pierre Auguste Renoir’s paintings inspired the films of Jean Renoir. The exhibit has started in the museum in the French capital and will run until January 27, 2019.
“Renoir Father and Son” factually records the way Jean Renoir inherited some of his father’s paintings, without delving deeper into the psychological implications of them. It documents the friendship between the famous French impressionist painter and Dr. Albert Barnes, a Philly-born chemist.
Dr. Barnes earned a fortune from an antiseptic used to treat venereal disease, which he dedicated to art. He bought, among other treasures, much of the ceramics by Jean Renoir, and several of Pierre Auguste Renoir’s nude paintings that were criticized in the past.
Jean Renoir, the filmmaker, questioned those paintings by his father and those of his contemporary artists. The exhibit takes a different look at how he disseminated the works of his father, his relation with the artistic community, and his creation as a ceramist. The son compared ceramics to that of a film, as both filmmakers and potters have to play their hand carefully. In other words, they have to make a living by making the most of what they have on hand. They are masters of their own destiny and ply their trade with a sense of freedom and humanity.
When on a Musee d Orsay tour, you get to explore paintings, photos, film extracts, posters, and so forth. Essentially, you get to be acquainted with somewhat more than one discipline. People understand film more nowadays than what is essentially a quintessential 19th Century art form.
At first glance, these two artists were very different – one was a painter, and the other was a film director by full-time profession and a ceramic maker part-time. The former fulfilled the stereotypical image of others about an impressionist painter with his works, and the latter made films that touched upon them among those of his contemporaries and claimed that he belonged in the 19th Century.
For the public, Jean Renoir belonged very much to the 20th Century. He fought in the World War I, and was also at the forefront of cinematic evolution, having made movies that range from silent to black and white and Technicolor. However, it was the milieu of his father that inspired him to make films, thereby retaining some of its sensibility.