Sunday, December 11

Renoir: the philosophical eye and it's parallaxes




















When I was in my twenties I had a friend that was studying philosophy and knew a lot about Nietzsche, maybe the most admired, quoted, and half-understood of the philosopher, and was very familiar with Deleuze and Foucault's work.
Following his mentor's steps, whose some extra-curricular classes I attended but was not attracted by the way he spoke, my friend started giving classes for a group of people who were interested in the three philosophers.

I was very interested in Foucault after reading, skipping and not understanding everything, "Les mots et les choses", 1966, "The Order of Things" in English.
It was nice meeting friends and after the explanations we had a lot of fun playing pictionary, guessing movies or doing acting exercises proposed by Augusto Boal, the Brazilian theater director.

One day I witnessed a discussion about Renoir. A girl that had recently joined the group said she liked Renoir's painting but my friend said terrible things about Renoir and the girl got not only angry but she couldn't understand the reasoning my friend was giving.

I know that if someone like these three thinkers and can only see with "philosophical eyes" Renoir is not "correct" but Francis Bacon is correct.
I refused to close my eyes to paintings based on philosophical or any other doctrine. One big mistake is done by those who do not understand that their admired philosopher did chose a certain artist or work of art as a way to illustrate or make a point clear and in doing so there is not a condemnation of artists that do another kind of work.
It was a great choice because when I was in Paris I went to a Renoir exhibition and was amazed by his paintings especially by the way he paints the color white. Ironically I attended some of Deleuze's classes at Paris VIII, a course about movie he did and he talked about Jean Renoir, the filmmaker, August Renoir's son.

Recently I was taking a look at the book "The Necessity of Art" by Ernest Fisher.
A literature teacher used the first chapter of this book, without saying it was a Marxist approach because we were under dictatorship, and I didn't notice at that time
I was amazed by the way the impressionism and some artists are put in the same bag especially in the session about "dehumanization" where it is said that

"In the impressionism the human being is solved in light and color, treated like a natural phenomenon (...) and disappear of landscapes, streets of the cities that become a desert."
This is not what I see in impressionists and have many examples but let's stay with Renoir who painted the people united celebrating a Sunday.
I understand and even agree with some of the Marxists concerns such as "alienation" and dehumanization but I believe that it is very difficult to apply these concepts to art and once again I have problems with the philosophical eye, that one that prescribe one art and condemn another.

James Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake" is proscribed because... "when creating a new language that was no more the human language but something that evoques water and wind it is the human being treated like an object."

It is very hard for me to see these analyses as true. I rather enjoy art using other tools and I even find it funny that some of the contemporary art is so attached to the need of philosophy and critics to make clear what the artist wanted to convey or achieve.

The post below has connection with this one and note that Foucault talks about how the Borges's taxonomy made him realize something and how the analysis of Las Meninas makes us see what he wants to explain. This is another way of using art in the philosophical context and is harmless.


1 comment:

Missy said...

I think art can mean different things to different people. It doesn't matter what the artist intended to convey it is how the other person sees it and can apply it to herself.