Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919), an important impressionist painter. When he was a teenager, Renoir was sent to a porcelain factory to learn his craft. But the work of painting porcelain and screens made him interested in painting. Later, out of interest in painting, Renoir went to the art school to study painting, and at the same time he took sketching lessons in Gleyre’s studio. There, he met Claude Monet (Claude Monet, 1840-1926), Baziyi and Alfred Sisley (Alfred Sisley, 1839-1899), and since then embarked on the road of Impressionism .
In retrospect, when I was young, I didn’t seem to like Renoir.
In the 80s of the 20th century, Chinese culture published a kind of “tragic artist” book, as if “art” cannot be achieved without “tragedy”.
On the surface, Renoir’s paintings are not tragic at all. He is always called “happiness” and “sweetness”. In the era of advocating “tragedy”, it is easy to be ignored by literary youths.
Ordinary literary youths are naturally influenced by the atmosphere of an era. For example, literary youths in the 1980s liked Nietzsche’s crazy tragedy philosophy. Where is the greatness?
Lonely, alienated, and absurd, young people love to read Camus’s “The Stranger”. It seems that because of his sudden death in a car accident, the creator’s life can be so fast, and death becomes a tragic completion.
In the art of painting, Van Gogh, who cut off his ears and lived in a mental hospital, fought against the secularism and madness, and burned himself like a flame in deathly loneliness. His art, his life itself, is more like a tragic example of that generation of literary and artistic youths eager to squander their youth.
What is the meaning of life?
If life doesn’t want to linger on, and don’t want to be like the verse in “The Abyss” of Yixian “with a thick skin, occupying a corner of the earth──”, young people would rather yearn for unknown and vague tragedies. Fighting against compromise, fighting against surviving, through literature and art, I would rather die than a piece of jade, looking for the pleasure of collective destruction. In his prime, Yukio Mishima cut himself seppuku with a sharp knife, and his tragedy committed suicide, like his novel “The Golden Pavilion”, which was wiped out in a huge flame, mocking the sloppy secular world that “occupies a corner of the earth with a cheeky face” Dirty life.
Perhaps the death tragedy that that generation of literary and artistic youth indulged in had nothing to do with literature and art, but the rebellious accusation and protest of life in the age of depression and emptiness.
If young literary and artistic youths did not leave legends that died suddenly when they were young, if they were unfortunate or lucky to survive, most of them would have to do more homework because of this. And at the moment of youthful indulging in youth and premature death, I don’t actually know what will be waiting for me if I survive, life will be long and long.
Renoir must be the creator of important words waiting to tell me in the latter part of his long journey.
Renoir was born in 1841, one year younger than Monet. He was the child of a working family in Limoge, a small French provincial town. Limoges has been a craft town producing ceramics since the Middle Ages, and until today, it is still famous for its imitation of Chinese blue and white porcelain craftsmanship. Renoir worked in a local ceramics factory in his childhood. With his particularly keen painting talent, he used glaze to paint on fine porcelain. This handicraft, which he was familiar with since he was a child, had a great influence on his later painting creation. Renoir’s deep-rooted interest in fine craftsmanship, the particularly moist light in porcelain glaze, the delicate and elegant texture of brush strokes, and gorgeous colors have become the core foundation of Renoir’s aesthetics. The women in his future paintings all have skin as soft as jade. When he handles oil paintings, the brushstrokes are smooth and transparent, and sometimes the colors ooze and smudge and mix, as if the glaze on the surface of ceramics has changed in a kiln. It all seems to come from his childhood painting of exquisite glazes on the surface of porcelain. memory.
Renoir later became a great painter in Impressionist creation, but he has a close relationship with French folk crafts. He also made finely-depicted decorative crafts for export, such as women’s folding fans. He copied it in the Louvre when he was young, and he was also particularly fond of Boucher’s paintings of court nudes in the French Rococo period. Perhaps, Renoir grew up in a poor working family and always yearned for the sweet, gorgeous and elegant life of the aristocrats. The poverty of his real life was just made up for in the creation of art. The ease, sweetness and happiness in his paintings seem to compensate for the shortcomings of his real life.
Impressionism is the most influential school of painting in the history of Western art. The two most important and well-known painters in Impressionism are Monet and Renoir.
Monet was born in 1840, one year older than Renoir, and neither of their childhoods were in Paris. Renoir’s hometown was Limoges, a small ceramic town, while Monet grew up in Le Havre in Normandy. Renoir made a living by painting ceramics in his childhood, Monet’s parents ran a small grocery store, and he sold character cartoons when he was a teenager. The earliest start of their creation is rooted in life, rather than academic art that only talks about technology.
After the Industrial Revolution, Paris became a metropolis. After the reconstruction of the Grand Paris by the Chief Executive Haussmann (1809-1891) in the 1850s, the train opened to traffic and the roads for cars extended in all directions. After the Industrial Revolution, Paris transformed into a field of agriculture. , A modern metropolis that young people in handicraft towns yearn for.
Many young people flocked to the metropolis. Around the age of 20, Monet and Renoir also went to Paris. With their dreams and their simple vitality from small towns in other provinces, they want to stand out in the bustling Paris. In the 1860s, they successively entered the studio of Charles Gleyre and became fellow apprentices with Sisley and Bazille.
new middle class
Feel the rhythm of the industry and the city in the new era, and feel the excitement and excitement brought by the mechanical civilization to the era. Walking on the streets of Paris, the newly rising middle class wears fashionable clothes and speaks elegantly, sits in cafes, enjoys operas and ballets, and embraces and dances in the public mill space. They are glamorous, rich and free, and enjoy all the good conveniences brought about by industry. They are the real masters of Impressionism ─ ─ “New Parisians”. They feel that their time is so beautiful, they are not nostalgic, sentimental, dull and painful, they want to live in their own time, they want to sing praises of their time with literature and music, and they want to paint a picture of the glory, beauty and enlightenment of their time And pleasant, hedonistic urban landscape.
In 1874, Monet named Impressionism after “Impression·Sunrise”, pursuing the ever-changing outdoor light. Impressionism is also known as the “School of External Light Painting”.
But merely visually explaining the “light” and “brushstrokes” of Impressionism in painting is not enough to understand the aesthetic movement that surrounded the 1870s. Aesthetics is not just a skill, but is closely related to the overall changes in the political economy and society of an era.
In 1874, Monet faced the momentary impression of the rising sun and created landscapes belonging to his own era. However, Renoir recorded the gorgeous fashion of the cultural and leisure life of the new middle class in Paris in the box of the newly built opera house. Monet captured the natural scenery, and Renoir recorded the humanities. They jointly created a new aesthetic of their own era.
Impressionist paintings can talk about light, brushstrokes, and colors, but Impressionism is not only a change in painting skills, but also an image memory of social changes in an era.
Judging from the pictorial memory of social change, Renoir’s paintings with the theme of middle-class life in New Paris may have more significance as a symbol of the times.
In 1876, Renoir created the huge “Moulin de la Pancake”, which can best be seen as a social record of the rise of the new middle class in Paris. After the Industrial Revolution, many original moulin spaces were transformed into social, performance and dance places for urbanites. Lautrec’s “Moulin Rouge” is also an example. Thirty years later, the mill space in Lautriec’s paintings squeezed the bitterness of living on the margins of society. However, in Renoir’s “Grand Pancake Mill”, the new middle class in Paris is in full swing. They are dressed in fashion, men and women, or embrace and dance, or talk softly. The sun shines through the gaps in the trees, the sky is bright and cloudy, so windy and sunny. This is the affluence and leisure of men and women in the early days of the industry. They enjoy the convenience brought by the industry, and they don’t need to worry about the qualitative change of the crime of congestion and pollution that the city will face in the future. Renoir narrates the brightest epic page in the history of European civilization. His paintings are like dancing steps in the beautiful and light melody of a waltz, and the men and women in each picture seem to be flying.
”Pancake Mill” is different from traditional European portraits, there are no individual “nobles” and “heroes” in the painting. The “new heroes” of the city are not individuals, but the “new middle class” who collectively create wealth.
Twenty years earlier than Renoir, the Barbizon School, which was created in the late 1850s, like Miller’s “The Gleaners” (1857) and “Esperance” (1858), are still recording the heavy labor of agriculture solemn. In the past twenty years, the earth-shaking changes in urban life caused by the industrial revolution immediately affected the completely different themes of the times in Renoir’s paintings. The lightness and splendor of middle-class affluence and pleasure.
From “darkness” to “brightness”, from “heaviness” to “lightness”, Renoir and the Impressionists completed the aesthetic innovation of the times.
Wealthy Leisure Life
Industry, technology, and machinery have greatly reduced the amount of human labor in the agricultural era. Many productive forces replaced by machinery have created a “leisure” that has never been seen in the history of human civilization. Coffee shops for urban men and women to relax and socialize appeared everywhere in Paris. In the 1870s, even though there was the Franco-Prussian War and the “Paris Commune” of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution, they did not interrupt the rhythm of leisure and entertainment in the city at all. Renoir’s “Theater Box” (1874), “The Pancake Mill” (1876), “Madame Charpentier and Child” (1878), “Boat Luncheon” (1880), several consecutive epoch-making masterpieces, farewell Agriculture has bid farewell to the countryside, and turned the focus of visual art to the city, to the newly rising urban middle class.
”Madame Charpentier and Child” is wearing a long black silk lace dress, sitting leisurely and elegantly in the living room. Her “salon” (salon) is not just a living room. The two daughters beside her are dressed in light pink and blue clothes, black and white fur pets lying at their feet, carpets on the floor, oriental screens with peacock patterns behind them, and clay pots on the small table. Flower bouquets, Persian-style glass water bottles──”Salon” is not just a show of wealth, perhaps the deeper aesthetic meaning is “cultural education”.
It is not enough for a society to have wealth. If there is not a painting like Renoir’s “Madame Charpentier and Child” left, the society that has been rich is just a vulgar and noisy emptiness.
”Madame Charpentier and Child” displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is a masterpiece of Renoir’s early stage, and it is also a model of salon education that people all over the world yearn for.
In 1880, Renoir created “Boat Luncheon”. This painting was collected in the Washington capital. It was once the world’s first painting used by a multinational bank to make “credit cards”.
The summer is bright and sunny, the man wears a white vest and a straw straw hat, the woman hugs and kisses a pug dog, the red and white striped roof of the houseboat, the fruit, cheese, and red wine on the table, such rich and abundant material, such a beautiful time, a life of leisure and enjoyment , without worry, without want, easy and sweet.
We know, however, that Renoir created these paintings when he often could not even afford paint.
A painting used to issue “credit cards” encourages consumption, vacation, leisure, material abundance, and a carefree and sweet life. However, the painter created the dream of an era in poverty, the dream of the urbanization of Paris, the dream of the urbanization of the world, and the human dream of the early industrial period left in Renoir’s paintings after a century and a half. These lingering memory images, like bustling and flashy, are unbearable to look back on.
Creation in pain
In the 1890s, Renoir continued to create the outstanding “Prom” series and “Piano Girl” series. The poor painter who improved his life a little by selling paintings still yearned for elegant and sweet women in culture and education.
However, he didn’t know that after the age of fifty, he got a rich life, but he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. The pain in the joints on the body tortured the painter day after day. Sitting in a wheelchair with his gradually aging and sick body, he continued to create. Looking at the young, plump, rosy and plump body of the model in front of him, he created a completely different female image in his later period.
After 1892, Renoir’s rheumatoid arthritis became more and more serious, and his joints were deformed, twisted and painful, which gradually changed his early elegant and meticulous painting style. After entering the 20th century, the colors became more saturated and bold, and the brush strokes became more rough and wild, changing from the theme of elegant women in cultural and leisure life to naked women with plump flesh. Renoir in his later years, especially after entering 1910, he was already seventy years old. In his self-portraits, he looked thin and skinny, with a haggard face and body. Painting after painting of brightly colored nudes.
The tradition of nude women in French court paintings of the Rococo era appears in a more secular and gorgeous color temperature under the pen of Renoir. These paintings of nude women are full of the wild atmosphere of the flesh, wandering among the woods, in the corners of the sea, under the blue sky, and by the spring water, taking a cool bath in the hot summer, and wiping the armpit and crotch with a white towel after bathing.
The body is so real
. The painter’s joints are so painful that it is difficult to hold the pen. His right shoulder joint, elbow and fingers are paralyzed. However, the brush persists in moving and groping on the canvas with difficulty, and the picture bursts out a gorgeous and plump female body that is so happy that it cannot be restrained. .
After moving to Cagnes-sur-Mer in Provence-sur-Mer in southern France in 1907, a wheelchair became a necessary equipment in his studio. Every morning, he asks his servants to fix himself in a wheelchair, facing the young and healthy body of the model, and captures the breath of the body with the most passionate color strokes on the canvas. So different from the elegant and well-educated women in the early paintings, the old painter seems to have realized that the happiness of life can be just having such a pure and warm body in the torment of physical aging and pain. All the glamorous costumes and jewelry, all the noble and elegant etiquette, seem to have less worldly significance than every inch of the real body.
The old painter is unscrupulous in the world of painting, violently and passionately indulging in these bodies, as if he wants to use this body to tell the world the “happiness” he didn’t understand when he was young.
When World War I ended in 1918, he created the colorful “The Bathing Girl” one year before his death, like a long tribute to the beautiful bodies of the gods in ancient mythology. However, the painter’s own body is about to leave .
Dreaming of wealth, elegance, and leisure when young people are poor, and longing for naked and plump bodies when they are old and sick, Renoir used two completely different images of women in his life to talk about the same theme of “happiness”, which makes people feel lost and ironic. How real and elusive “happiness” is.
I don’t know if the last “happiness” in Renoir’s painting is another silent and profound tragedy of life.