Rachel Cohen

Impressionism

Renoir

Dancing Couple

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I went with the baby, perhaps two weeks ago now, to look at the Renoirs at the MFA.  In the great room of the Impressionists, she liked best the Degas ballerina, “girl! girl!” though she liked better still an actual girl in a polka dot skirt who sat on the bench.  In general, her preference was for statues, mirrors, the lime green chairs in the café, the beaded curtain hanging between two rooms of contemporary works, things with which she could have a spatial interaction.  It was hard to get her to stand still in front of the [...] read more

Reading Toward Renoir

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Renoir to me has always been the outlier – the one among the Impressionists without austerity enough to make room for me.  Too sweet, too voluptuous.  All skin, no air. But loved by Leo Stein, Gertrude’s brother, who understood Cézanne’s apples right away. When he and Gertrude split up the household they had for decades shared, both wanted the apples, but were content for her to keep the Picassos, him to take the Renoirs. --- Stein was a man for whom sensuality was difficult and I’ve wondered if Renoir seemed to offer in an uncomplicated way, enjoyment.  It sounds [...] read more

Reading Toward Renoir II

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I find that in reading Jean Renoir’s Renoir, my father , I am thinking of Maxim Gorki’s memoir of Chekhov, a most beautiful reminiscence.  In particular of a story I have always loved, and which has to be quoted complete with Gorki’s introductory meditation.  It is as follows: I think that in Anton Chekhov’s presence everyone involuntarily felt in himself a desire to be simpler, more truthful, more one’s self; I often saw how people cast off the motley finery of bookish phrases, smart words, and all the other cheap tricks with which a Russian, wishing to figure [...] read more