“Renoir is art at the highest level,” said the minister responsible for culture and innovation in his video message at the opening of the Renoir – The Painter and His Models exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday.
János Csák reminded us that by the end of the 19th century, the worldview of Western people had changed, and Western societies had lost their certainties.
However, people need people to hold on to in every age, and art is one of them, he pointed out, adding: that the art that Renoir shows helps us to find a harmonious place in the universe, in the narrower and wider community.
This is real art, and that’s why it’s a great thing that a Renoir exhibition is opening in Budapest – said János Csák.
Claire Bernardi, director of the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, said that the Fine Arts exhibition is a double encounter. On the one hand, a people and an artist can meet each other for the first time, as a large-scale exhibition overviewing Renoir’s entire oeuvre will open for the first time in Hungary. On the other hand, it is a meeting of three works that were born as twins, but ignored each other for too long, he noted.
As he recalled, “it all started with the picture entitled Reclining nude (Gabrielle)”, which was exhibited in Budapest in 1907. The Museum of Fine Arts was unable to acquire Renoir’s masterpiece at the time, but more than a hundred years later, in 2019, the Hungarian state bought the work.
The two pieces of the Lying Nude are kept by the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée del’Orangerie in Paris, which is where the idea for the Fine Arts exhibition comes from to present the three paintings in one space for the first time.
The basis of the cooperation established between Paris and Budapest is, therefore, the meeting of the “three graces”. These paintings are the highlights of Renoir’s work, with their understated eroticism and the wonderful interplay of shapes and colors; with these nudes, Renoir is both modern and classic, evoking the oeuvre of old masters, and at the same time providing an example to the young artists of his own time – the French expert praised the masterpieces.
However, Claire Bernardi drew attention: beyond this “sensory triad”, the Budapest exhibition offers a great overview of Renoir’s work. Thanks to the 70 works collected here, we can witness all stages of Renoir’s long career, he emphasized.
László Baán, the director general of the Museum of Fine Arts, added that with the support of the Hungarian government, in 2019, Renoir’s painting entitled Reclining Female Nude (Gabrielle) was purchased as the most valuable acquisition of the museum in the last hundred years, which was the starting point of the exhibition that is now opening.
The concept and implementation of the exhibition praises the work of the Hungarian curator Anna Zsófia Kovács, in addition to the French curators Cécile Girardeau and Paul Perrin, he said.
In his greeting, Paul Perrin, director of collections at the Musée d’Orsay, emphasized that Renoir’s first exhibition in Hungary focuses on the figure painting of the great French master.
Until the end of his life, Renoir never stopped admiring the figure of his models, regardless of their origin or age, provided that – in his words – “their skin catches the light well”, he recalled.
Renoir, known as the painter of happiness, was not naive, but he believed that art was one of the greatest consolations in life. With his work, he tried to return this vision, Paul Perrin said.
The exhibition featuring seventy works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts from Friday until January 7, 2024.
Caption: A visitor looks at Renoir’s painting After Lunch at the press launch of an exhibition of the French Impressionist master’s many masterpieces at the Museum of Fine Arts on September 21, 2023. For the first time, a comprehensive exhibition presenting the oeuvre of Pierre-Auguste Renoir titled Renoir – The Painter and his Models will be opened in Hungary until January 7. MTI/Robert Hegedüs