Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Impressionists

François Truffaut once said:

"Renoir does not film ideas, but men and women who have ideas, and he does not invite us to adopt these ideas or to sort them out no matter how quaint or illusory they may be, but simply to respect them." 

The man who would go on to write and direct two of the most influential films ever made (La Grande Illusion; La Règle du jeu/The Rules of the Game) was already born into artistic royalty. The second son of master Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean Renior would also go on to scribe the definitive biography of his celebrated father. Like the rest of the family, young Jean was a frequent subject of his father's portraits. It wasn't until Jean discovered the films of D. W. Griffith and Charles Chaplin (while recuperating from a leg injury he sustained during WWI that left him with a permanent limp) and later Erich von Stroheim, whom he would one day immortalize in his greatest screen role, that Jean Renoir began to fully understand what his own artistic direction should be. Below are some of the portraits painted by the elder Renoir next to various photographs of his subject, the man who some consider to be the greatest filmmaker there ever was. Jean Renoir himself once said:

"I decided to make a study of French gesture as reflected in my father's paintings."

Art imitating life, imitating art again. And so it goes...

essential reading: Jean Renoir by André Bazin (edited by François Truffaut) with a foreword by Jean Renoir, 1973 Simon & Schuster

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