La grenouillère: Different perspectives.

I believe in the expression: «Reality depends on the eye of the beholder.» Today I’m going to talk about a couple of paintings that portrait the same spot at an identical moment. Monet and Renoir went together to paint them, and to perceive how the same moment was appreciated in such different ways allow us to understand both artists better. 

My favorite movement is impressionism. The main reason is that from all the turning points in the history of art, this is the first movement that feels proud of its rebelliousness. They were against the academy, a proof of it is how painters expose their work at a place they called the: «Exhibition of Rejects» (Salon des Refusés)

It’s essential to recognize the historical antecedents of this movement as well as in all artistic movements. Let’s remember that art (and painting) is a human creation that represents someone’s vision of the world, even if it’s a real vision or an imaginary one. So whatever is happening in the world is closely related to what is expressed in art.

The French Revolution is undoubtedly a significant influence, but I will also like to recognize the impact of the invention of the photographic camera. This invention forced artists, particularly painters, to reinvent themselves. Don’t you think that if you could have an exact image of something through a camera, portrait perfectly, the reality in the artwork began to have a lack of sense?

Another factor that changes the rules is the invention of the oil tube. Previously, paints were made from minerals, plants, woods, and expensive ingredients that came from everywhere. Oleo used to be kept in a pig’s bladder closed with a rope, and because of that, sometimes it gets dry. That was something that not everyone could afford. With the invention of the oil tube, artists could paint outside and leave the studio.

I can keep talking about impressionism, but I think it’s time to start talking about Monet and Renoir.

Pierre Auguste Renoir was known for portraying female beauty and aesthetics. He painted many landscapes that focus mainly on urban social life, representing the joy of everyday life with characters perceived as having fun. Because of that he is considered an impressionist that pictures a lot of sensuality in his pieces.

Here are some of his main pieces:

Left: Two Sisters (On the Terrace) – Chicago Art Institute. Center up: Luncheon of the boating party – Phillips Collection, Washington. Center down: Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette – Museum d’Orsay, Paris. The Umbrellas – National Gallery, Londres.

On the other side, for Claude Monet, people served simple as surfaces on which light could play. Painting outside compelled continual response to the changing atmosphere and light. Monet said, «For me, the subject is of secondary importance. I want to convey what is alive between me and the subject.» 

This is why he creates series with the same landscape portrayed at different times of the year. Here are some examples of his artwork:

Left up: Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning – J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Left down: Haystacks at the End of Summer, Morning Effect – Museum d’Orsay, Paris.
Center up: Wheatstacks, End of Summer, Chicago Art Institute
Center down: Grainstacks in the Sunlight, Morning Effect
Right: Woman with Parasol – National Gallery of Art, Washington

Renoir’s life in Paris wasn’t exactly easy, due to his lack of money and sometimes he stays at Monet’s. One day these two buddies went to pain at the same spot, and that’s how these wonders were born:

1. La Grenouillère Renoir – Nationalmuseum Sweden Stockholm.
2. La Grenouillère Monet – The MET.

For me, we can immediately perceive the importance that Monet gives to how light touches the water. On the other hand, for Renoir, social interaction was the most beautiful thing to portray. What is happening on the small circular island where people are talking is the more important thing to show.

I like to befriend people who think differently from me and are open to different discerning points of view. I enjoy talking or even arguing when we do not agree on a topic and to understand the reasons behind the issues we agree on.

I feel enormously moved by the opportunity to appreciate how two great artists mindfully went against the academy and taught us how different is their appreciation of the world.

If I could grant myself a wish related to art, I would expose these two pieces next to each other in the same museum. I would love the idea of going with a friend and asking him which one do you like best? And understand why.

Don’t you think that these two pieces represent the way we interact with friends? We may like things in common, but everyone has their individuality.

Maybe both friends like concerts, but their favorite band will be different, or both like to run, but one wants to train outdoors while the other prefers the gym. We may like to read, and each one will have their favorite author.

Monet did not seek to render only reality but the act of perception itself. And art shows different perceptions of life.