Renoir: A Traditionalist, in the Modern Sense

LUXies with a bent for fine art are in luck: Opening this Sunday, February 14 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is Renoir in the 20th Century, an exhibition of the work of one of the pivotal members of French Impressionism. An obvious favorite of the art world then and now, this exhibit will focus solely on the last three decades of Renoir’s career, when he created paintings, drawings, and sculpture in the traditional manner but that helped bridge the divide into the modern. How appropriate that Renoir’s gorgeous romantic style should be on view on one of the most heartfelt days of the year.

Renoir made his mark among the Impressionists in Paris who were at first mocked by a critical populace, then revered. And he continued to be inspiration to those artists who came after him—Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard and Maillol in particular. After being imbued in the Impressionist movement-and maintaining his position as one of the most central figures-Renoir became more interested in making art that possessed more of the classical tradition, with the prolific flourishes so known to a more staid time. Barring one previous retrospective in 1985, at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, this is the first exhibition known to have this kind of focus, and should be seen as a very worthwhile investigation into the roots of Modernism. Those who follow the art world are aware of its distinctions, of the ability of art to be categorized—belonging to the old world or boldly embracing the new. But it is the slight shades of difference, when one transitions into the other, that subtlety is to be found. Renoir captures this delicacy as only a master can.

The exhibition is on view until May 9.

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