‘Renoir’s art at the highest level,’ Minister of Culture and Innovation János Csák described the exhibition titled ‘Renoir — The Painter and His Models’ at the Museum of Fine Arts in a video message sent to the opening ceremony of the exhibition titled ‘Renoir — The Painter and His Models’ at the Museum of Fine Arts on Friday.
Minister Csák reminded that by the end of the 19th century, the worldview of Western people had transformed, and Western societies had lost their previous certainties. However, people always need something to hold on to in every era, and one of these things is art, he pointed out, adding that the art presented by Renoir
helps individuals find harmony in the universe and within their smaller and larger communities.
‘This is true art, and that’s why it’s wonderful that a Renoir exhibition is opening in Budapest,’ Csák announced.
Claire Bernardi, the director of the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, stated that the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts is a dual encounter. On the one hand, for the first time, a people and an artist are meeting, as this is the first time in Hungary that a comprehensive exhibition covering Renoir’s entire body of work is being presented. On the other hand, it is about the meeting of paintings that were born as twins but ignored each other for too long, she noted.
As she recalled, ‘everything began with the painting Reclining Nude (Gabrielle) which was exhibited in Budapest in 1907. The Museum of Fine Arts was unable to acquire Renoir’s masterpiece at that time, but more than a hundred years later, in 2019, the Hungarian state purchased the artwork. The pair of Reclining Nude (Gabrielle) is held by the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, and from there came the idea for the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts: to present the three paintings in one space.
The basis of cooperation between Paris and Budapest is thus the meeting of the ‘three graces.’
These paintings, with their understated sensuality and the marvellous interplay of forms and colours, represent the pinnacle of Renoir’s work. With these nudes, Renoir is both modern and classical, evoking the work of old masters while setting an example for the young artists of his time, the French expert noted. Claire Bernardi, however, pointed out that beyond this ‘sensuous triad,’ the Budapest exhibition provides a magnificent overview of Renoir’s work. Thanks to the 70 works gathered, one can witness all phases of Renoir’s long career, she underscored.
László Baán, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, also recalled that thanks to the support of the Hungarian government, they were able to acquire Renoir’s painting in 2019, which represented the starting point for the current exhibition. He also noted that the concept and realization of the exhibition is credited to the Hungarian curator, Anna Zsófia Kovács, alongside French curators Cécile Girardeau and Paul Perrin.
Paul Perrin, the director of the Renoir collection at the Musée d’Orsay, highlighted in his speech that Renoir’s first exhibition in Hungary focuses on the great French master’s figurative painting. Renoir continued to admire the figures of his models throughout his life, regardless of their origins or age,
as long as, in his words, ‘their skin caught the light,’
he explained. Renoir, often referred to as the painter of happiness, was not naïve, but he believed that art was one of life’s greatest consolations. With his work, he sought to convey this perspective, Paul Perrin explained.
The exhibition, featuring seventy works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts from Friday, 22 September until 7 January 2024.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI