Artist Father and Filmmaker Son: Auguste and Jean

“In nature, nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed.” Jean Renoir

A few days ago someone asked me what my favorite movie of all time was. I had an answer immediately, but realized, with a pang, that I hardly ever see movies anymore——and when I do, they star Johnny Depp or Lindsay Lohan (both of whom I have to say I’m fond of) and are rated PG. When my husband and I were first married, however, we’d often start watching movies at 10:00 in the morning—traipsing from one film class to the next, checking to see what Andrew Sarris had to say in The Village Voice or American Cinema, and then dashing by night to catch yet another movie, often a double bill in the Illinois Room at the University of Iowa.

My favorite movie remains La Regle du jeu (called, in English, Rules of the Game) by Jean Renoir, who was the son of the painter, Pierre-Auguste. Auguste and Aline Renoir had three sons, Pierre, Jean, and Claude (“Coco”), all of whom worked in theatre and cinema. Jean actually filmed a short movie of his father painting and talking with the art dealer Ambroise Vollard; the reel was recently recovered from an unmarked vault. (An edited clip is part of Vollard exhibit now in Chicago.) To read the fascinating story behind the film, click on www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2001/07.19/07-renoir.html.

Of course, Renoir pere’s most famous work—treacly portraits of women and children—is easily derided, but take a look at his early portraits and the rigorously beautiful landscapes and still lifes he created throughout his life (www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/renoir_pierre-auguste.html and
www.abcgallery.com/R/renoir/renoir.html) tell me if you think he’s better than you thought. Do you have an artist you’d like to nominate for a re-appraisal? And, by the way, what is your favorite movie of all time? –Maureen Bloomfield

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2 thoughts on “Artist Father and Filmmaker Son: Auguste and Jean

  1. Brie Dodson

    Favorite movie? Oh, what a fun question. It’s a toss-up – "Labyrinth" or "Performance" – "Labyrinth" wins by a crystal ball. 😉 These movies may not be about art per se (unless you count Mick Jagger spray-painting the wall in "Performance"), but they’re both eye candy. I could watch the ballroom scene in "Labyrinth" a hundred times in a row and not tire of it, as my family knows all too well!

    Here’s another question: Which movies have inspired you to paint – and what?

    "Eat Drink Man Woman," "Like Water for Chocolate," and the opening sequence of "Midsummer Night’s Dream" all make me want to paint tables gloriously laden with delicious food. But I admit, I haven’t done it yet.

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