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An Artist in the Fullest Sense of the Word
on August 3, 2000
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was an artist in the fullest sense of the word. The paintings he left us show us the simplicity and sensuality of his times and their brilliant colors and joyous images express the passion of Renoir's own soul.
The paradise of color and the changing effects of light were Renoir's greatest gift to the world. This book, Renoir: The Crown Art Library, showcases some of the artist's most beloved works and gives a brief overview of his life.
A quick glance at this book tells you that Renoir's favorite subject was always people. In fact, it is possible to select an entire series of masterpieces from Renoir's works without including even one landscape--something that would be impossible with any of the other Impressionists.
The people created by Renoir are always filled with the warm joy of simply being alive. Of the many illustrations in this book, most are in color, allowing us to both study and participate in the "joie de vivre" that Renoir, more than any other artist, communicated to the world.
There is a short analysis of the evolution of Renoir's technique and we learn why he abandoned the dark, sombre colors of the Old Masters and turned to the brilliant reds, blues, yellows and greens of which he was so fond.
We learn how and why the feminine form became a stronger and stronger element in his paintings, especially those of his later years, and we see how, in the last ten years of his life, he limited his palette to only a few colors--cinnabar, ochre, Naples yellow, black and some white, yet managed to create playful visions of a sun-bright world, seemingly devoid of weight; paintings in which contours of people and surroundings are blurred and all is joined in a concord of color and naturalness.
Renoir: The Crown Art Library is a wonderful introduction to the life and style of this master Impressionist, the world's most joyous painter. Those looking for a biography of Renoir would be better off choosing Renoir, My Father, by Jean Renoir, the artist's middle son. In-depth analyses of Impressionism and Renoir's own technique in particular, are also better covered in other books such as Rewald's History of Impressionism.
But for the vast majority of people, laymen who only want to increase their knowledge and appreciation of the world's greatest artists, Renoir: The Crown Art Library offers a wonderful starting point. With is lavish illustrations and lively text, it will broaden the scope of anyone's understanding. The book is a joy to browse and once insight is gained into the how and why of each painting, that joy is only increased.
While certainly far from exhaustive, Renoir: The Crown Art Library, is a lovely book and anyone with even a passing interest in Renoir and Impressionism will find it well worth their while.