Monday, May 26, 2014

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Caption: Two Sisters

I went to The Art Institute of Chicago this weekend. It's fun going to an art museum with someone who knows a lot about art and can weed out the stuff you already saw too much of at Crystal Bridges last year. Someone who can point you in the right direction. We didn't have time to see all that we wanted too, but we saw a lot in the four hours we were there, including meeting an old path friend from residency and her boyfriend for lunch.

There is nothing like seeing art in person, no matter how much of it you have read about and looked at in books and on the internet. When I was a junior in high school we had an assignment to do a report on an Impressionist painter. I was a little bummed that the tortured souls I wanted to research and write about, Van Gogh and Munch, were already taken. I chose Renoir.

"His name is Pierre-Auguste and I was born in the month of August, so at least we have that in common," I remember thinking. So I delved in. But nothing could have prepared me for the chills I got, the tears that welled up, the flooding of high school memories that came to me when I saw this, one of my favorites, in person.

Renoir was a tortured soul too. He was crippled in life by chronic respiratory and subsequently autoimmune illness. I think back to the treatment back then, Climate, and wonder at how far we've come in providing these patients with a better lifestyle; means to live with happiness and longevity.

"Two Sisters" was one of my favorite paintings. When I showed it to my son tonight at pizza dinner, he said "That looks like you Mom. And that looks like you as a little girl." He was missing me for the last four days and leaning against me and telling me stories and seeing me everywhere, ha ha. When I see this painting I think of myself and my own sister. Sometimes I see her as the adult and me as the child. Sometimes it's vice versa. We've both needed each other throughout life and we try like hell, despite life's obstacles, to be there for each other. She's one in a million.

That's the eternal value of art, not that I need to beat a dead horse. We all see it from our own unique experience. That's what makes it live forever. 


Liana said...

I love Renoir and the other impressionists. My parents used to have a print of the Luncheon of the Boating Party and as a kid, I thought one of the men looked like my dad and one of the ladies looked like my mom.

Gizabeth Shyder said...

That was my other favorite Liana! I looked it up last night and saw that it was in D.C. I've never been to D.C. - what a great excuse to plan a trip there.

I remember thinking how sophistocated they seemed compared to awkward teenage me.