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National Palace Museum opens Renoir and Painters of the Twentieth Century

National Palace Museum presents Renoir and Painters of the Twentieth Century an exhibition on view 2013/05/25~2013/09/08.

The exhibition will introduce Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), a French impressionist whose beautiful world of paintings revolved around his daily family life. The exhibition will reveal the works of artists who had been deeply influenced by Renoir, including Pablo Picasso, Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, and Raoul Dufy.

This is the inaugural large-scale art exhibition on the theme of Pierre-Auguste Renoir in Taiwan, with art exhibition items primarily coming from the POLA Museum of Art in Japan and the treasured masterpieces from ten other art museums in Japan, the U.S., and France. Renoir’s works not only earn the grace of art aficionados from all across the globe, they are also desired by art collectors who engage in bidding wars in international art auditions. This exhibition is divided into six themes comprising “ladies in the hat,” “flowers,” “women,” “gardens and music,” “representations of the body,” and “Southern France and the Mediterranean” to explore how the artistic world created by Renoir endured the test of time, and the method by which it was passed down to the future generations. In addition, visitors will be able to see nine of Picassos’ paintings and six of Matisse artworks.

Renoir was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France, the sixth child of a tailor family. At age 13, he entered a porcelain factory and worked as an apprentice to paint designs on fine china. He also asked by overseas missionaries to paint interior design items and decorations on fans. During the early years, he often visited the Louvre Museum to study under the French master painters.

In 1862, Renoir, 21, left his home town and began studying art in Paris. Coming from a poor childhood, Renoir and his artist friends chose outdoor sceneries over studios to do their drawings. In regards to their drawing, their effort was not invested in reproducing the natural landscape, but rather, to capture the natural lights and the secrets of colors. The young artists and their artistic revolution, following the critics’ critical reviews, calling Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” “the Exhibition of the Impressionists,” inadvertently triggered a rise in the new art movement, the “impressionism.” In 1874, Renoir, 33, participated in the first impressionist exhibition, and produced a number of large-sized paintings about the life in the streets of Paris and its natural landscape. One of his masterpieces, “Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette,” collected in the Musee d’Orsay in France, was made during this period (1876). In 1892, the French government, for the first time, collected Renoir’s (then 51 years of age) art pieces. When his paintings were introduced in the New York exhibitions for the first time in the late 1980s, they also received positive reception, earning the attention of American collectors. Following his fame was the torture caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In the last twenty years of Renoir’s life, he was battered by illness, with surgeries performed on his hands, feet, and knees. His body deteriorated from being able to walk with a cane to being in a wheelchair and eventually being completely paralyzed. His good friend attempted to hire a rehabilitation expert to help restore some of his walking ability. Renoir attempted treatment for a period of over one month before he finally gave up. He said “my strength is leaving me, and I am no longer able to paint. If I had to choose between walking and painting, I would much rather paint.” Despite being tormented by deformed body joints, Renoir still possessed a great sense of humour, optimism, and passion to make art. He believed that “without joy, I cannot be a painter.” Renoir died from pneumonia at the age of 78 on Dec. 3, 1919. Even until his last breathing moment, he was busy producing art. What he had left behind him was over 700 paintings in his studio; over his life time, he had produced over 4,000 pieces of art.

POLA is the fourth largest cosmetic group in Japan. Suzuki Tsuneshi, POLA’s second generation owner, had spent over 40 years collecting 9,500 pieces of artworks, of which contained 400 Western paintings on the subject of impressionism, the most in any Japanese museum. The POLA Museum, established by Suzuki in 2002, is located in a national park in Sengokuhara, Hakone. This exhibition marks the first time for the POLA Museum to lend a large volume of its treasured paintings overseas. In addition to the 53 art collections from the POLA Museum, this exhibition also features a number of Renoir’s representative works borrowed from the major museums of Japan, Europe, and the U.S. They comprised the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, the MOA Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraka, the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery of Art (in Washington), the Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou (in France), and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Limoges (in France).