‘3 Questions with the Guy Who Hates Renoir’ – 2017

I posted yesterday about a protest against the works of Renoir.  The protest was the inspiration of Max Geller, who has an Instagram account – renoir_sucks_at_painting – dedicated to his dislike of Renoir.

There’s more from Geller, in an interview with NPR, entitled, 3 Questions with the Guy Who Hates Renoir.

Geller doesn’t dislike art, and he admires many Impressionists.  It’s Renoir‘s work he dislikes:

Why do you hate Renoir?

“I hate Renoir because he is the most overrated artist east, west, north and south of the river Seine. I think in real life trees are beautiful and the human eyeball conveys emotional force. If you took his word for it, trees would be a collection of disgusting, green squiggly lines and eyeballs would be jet black as if they were colored by sharpies. In real life trees are beautiful; Renoir just sucks at painting.”

Do you also hate the other French Impressionists: Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Gustave Caillebotte?

“No, and I resent the question. It’s not a misunderstanding of the ethos of Impressionism. I get that it’s not representative, but if you look at it you get that it is a beautiful impression of the information that the artist is translating. [Renoir’s] is a very bleak, nightmarish one filled with cadavers, pallid skin and chauvinism.”

There’s a sad & laughable expectation in many places, include sometimes in Whitewater, that one is not to criticize art (or more properly Art or ART, as though a particular work or artist were a Platonic form).  This sort of view brings with it a dimwitted snobbishness, as though true admirers of art would know that some works and artists are not to be criticized.

It’s a kind of secular Gnosticism, this idea that a few hold special, hidden knowledge that the many – falsely presumed as ignorant – neither have nor would understand.  Every town has a few people like this, and we’re no exception.

Renoir, or anyone else, is an artist to be considered, pondered, criticized, and debated, for goodness’ sake; what an embarrassment for some to approach even the consideration of the subject as though an offense against all creation.  Just as the Gnostics were wrong to think knowledge of the divine was within the grasp of only a few, so those who think artistic insight is the possession of only a few are mistaken.

Geller may not win over many, but he’s entitled to his view, one that, by the way, seems spot on to me.

In any event, Geller’s is a more lively and ruddy approach than that of the dull, pale defenders of conventional opinion on the other side of this question.




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