Why Pierre-Auguste and Alexandre Renoir Choose to Paint Beautiful Things
Alexandre Renoir is an artist with an unbelievable family legacy, even though he’s actually only the second painter in his family’s history.
The first was his great-grandfather, famed 19th-century artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who was one of the founders of Impressionism, along with Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and other artists of the time.
Despite their shared DNA, Alexandre and his famous ancestor have decidedly different art styles. For example, Alexandre paints exclusively with palette knives, while Pierre-Auguste once joked that a palette knife was only good for “cleaning a palette.”
There are other distinct variances between their art and working styles, but the one thing Alexandre and Pierre-Auguste DO share is a commitment to beauty.
Both artists strongly gravitate toward painting lush, joyful scenes in their works. In fact, in 2018, Alexandre held an exhibition at Tennessee’s Monthaven Arts Center titled “Beauty Remains,” which was named after one of his great-grandfather’s most memorable quotes.
(When asked, later in life, how he kept painting after being diagnosed with severe arthritis, Pierre-Auguste replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”)
Recently, Alexandre sat down for a conversation with Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro and recounted a story about his great-grandfather that speaks volumes about how both Renoirs hope to enrich the world with their art.
Here’s what he told us…
ALEXANDRE RENOIR: You have to realize—Claude Monet and my great-grandfather were the best of friends. They almost grew up together. They saved each other, they learned from each other, they painted together.
And they were all friends and contemporaries with artist Édouard Manet.
At the time, Manet would tell Monet to tell his buddy Renoir to get another job because he’s never going to make it as an artist unless he uses the color black in his paintings.
Then Renoir would tell his buddy Monet to tell his buddy Manet to cram it because there are enough dark and ugly things in the world and he’s not going to add any more.
That’s at the heart of my philosophy too. There are so many dark and ugly things in the world—there really, really are—and my basic core philosophy in life is that you have two choices: you can laugh about them or you can cry about them.
Granted, laughing can get you into more trouble, but that’s okay. It feels better. It’s nicer. You can’t let the darkness drag you down, I’ve lived through some horrible things in my life. We all have. That’s why I try so very hard to paint the happy, the bright, the calm, the beauty.
I want to paint something that will give your soul a little sigh, you know. Whether you consciously see it or not, it affects you.
And that’s why I paint the way I paint.