All posts tagged: the paris review

You’ll Never Know Yourself

Pierre Bonnard’s revolutionary and controversial use of color became a means toward unlocking his past and the truths of his own self. But what if, ultimately, there was nothing to find? For years, Pierre Bonnard juggled the love of two of his models. The women were Marthe de Méligny, who would eventually become the artist’s wife, and Renée Monchaty, who would kill herself in spurned grief. In Young Women in the Garden, Bonnard painted them both. They are in a bourgeois backyard garden, like something out of a Renoir or Manet, at a large table adorned with a basket of fruit. Monchaty is the focal point of the scene. She sits in a chair, turned toward the viewer; her head rests innocently in her hand. She appears contented, at ease. In the bottom corner of the scene, looking not at the viewer but toward Monchaty, De Méligny looks quietly bemused, her profile nearly cut out of the frame. Bonnard ultimately left Monchaty for De Méligny. Sensing that his marriage to De Méligny was imminent, and that …

Creative Tension: Renoir Père et Fils

The filmmaker Jean Renoir made a career of dismantling the beliefs of his absentee father, the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Jean satirized the aristocracy and upended his father’s saccharine scenes of leisure. An exhibition now at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris, looks at their relationship. The Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir rarely spent time with his second son, Jean. Whenever Pierre-Auguste was around the house, he demanded to be called patron—“the boss”—rather than the more typical papa, and Jean grew to view him more as a boarding school headmaster than as a father. As for the actual parenting, that was mostly left to the family’s nanny, Gabrielle Renard. Renard, who was only sixteen when she moved into the Renoirs’ home in Paris, spent years with Jean—taking him to the movies and to puppet shows, playing with toys and strolling the winding streets of Montmartre and the seaside in Cagnes-sur-Mer, where Pierre-Auguste moved the family. Ultimately, Renard became one of the central influences on Jean’s filmmaking career: where his father’s paintings often portrayed their French aristocratic class in an earnest, …

Inheriting Legacy

For my new monthly column for The Paris Review, I will travel across Europe—from Copenhagen to Dublin to Berlin to London—searching out essential artworks and exhibitions that speak to a wider cultural context, such as our desire for wanderlust or the complexities of artistic romances. In this first segment, I explore the complicated burden placed upon the lovers, close friends, and heirs of famous artists after they die.