Friday, February 25, 2005

Why shouldn't art be pretty?

In the past few years I've noticed my tastes have moved away from "important" books and movies to lighter fare. I no longer have any patience for art that hits me in the face with tragedy or injustice; I demand happy endings. And comedies. My favorite movie for the past several years has been O Brother, Where Art Thou?

When all of my Christian friends rushed off to see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, I stayed behind. I firmly believe all that stuff actually happened; I don't need to see it on the big screen to feel it more deeply. The movie couldn't have increased my faith, so why go and watch the gore and be disturbed? If my children had been tortured and murdered, I wouldn't want to watch a movie about that, either.

Maybe it's because I've been up-close-and-personal with life for almost 49 years now. When I was young I turned to weighty literature and movies because I was forming the principles I wanted to live by. But now those are pretty much set; I can tell you what I believe and why. So while I still read nonfiction books and newspapers to inform my intellect and refine my opinions, I look to novels and movies for pure entertainment.

I feel the same way about the visual and performing arts.

Today is the birthday of French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). I've been crazy in love with the Impressionists for all of my adult life, but I've grown to admire them even more in the past ten years. So this morning I was delighted to come across this quote from Renoir:

Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.

Absolutely. If you're of the same mind, perhaps you'd like to take a look at some of Renoir's "pretty art":

The Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881)

A Girl with a Watering Can (1876)

Beach Scene, Guernsey (1883)


Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,

There can never be too much man-made prettiness/beauty in the world. We seem to be so much readier to create ugliness, which is why painters like Renoir and Monet are balm for a stressed soul. Oh, those soft shapes and sunlit colours :-) My own favourite among Renoir's works is
Le Moulin de la Galette.

Also, I am thinking about you and your widowed friend, wishing you both everything helpful and comforting.

Kind regards,
Danielle C.

Brenda Coulter said...

Thank you, Danielle.

Thanks, also, for posting the link. I just had a quick look.

I've always loved his cafe scenes because they make me think of wedding receptions -- all that food and laughter.

tristan coulter said...

I'm pretty sure we have a few Renoir works at the Art Institute of Chicago. I'll check it out. I haven't been there in a few months, it's time to go again.

Brenda Coulter said...

Oh, they have like a couple of dozen there. Go scope 'em out, and then you can go again when I visit you.

Anonymous said...

I just recently found your blog and am catching up on all the back entries. This one caught my eye as I am a fellow impressionist fan. I like the "happy", "pretty" pictures too. I was blessed to be able to spend a few months in France - mostly Paris studdying art and visiting a number of their huge and not so huge museums. Renoir and Monet as well as some of Degas (especially the dancers)are my faves. There are a few artists of that period and "style" that I find more dark but I agree that overall they are pleasant art.


Brenda Coulter said...

Melissa, welcome to NRJW. Thanks for browsing.