Morisot did it for Manet. Monet did it for Renoir. Bazille did it for Monet. Renoir did it for Bazille. In fact, most of the Impressionists did it for one another, seemingly all the time.
Just what were they doing? Posing. Perhaps more than any other group of artists, the Impressionists painted one another. It could be argued that they needed each other; many of them were close to broke, especially at the start of their careers, and they couldn’t afford models. But it also might be the case that one of the revolutions of the Impressionist period was the elevation of the “Everyman.” No longer was portraiture restricted to depictions of the aristocracy or famous figures throughout history. A painting of Monet’s mistress, for example, could be as grandly scaled as the finest society portrait.
In Frédéric Bazille’s 1867 portrait of a mid-20s Renoir, the young artist sits in a rather rakish pose on a chair, his knees casually pulled up to his chest, his hands loosely folded together. His pose suggests the stereotypically relaxed and freewheeling artist, but his clothes could measure up to those of any man of society. At this time, Paris was the style capital for women’s fashion, but men’s wear was dictated by London. Colors were muted, clothes were sober, and what determined “fashionability” was not elaborate trimming but instead a fine cut and perfect fit. Renoir is even wearing boots with elastic inserts—a 19th-century innovation that enabled men and women to put their boots on without hassling with closures—much as we wear today. Because men’s clothing was fairly conventional and existed on a small spectrum, the way that a man could express himself (especially in a static portrait) was in his attitude and how he carried himself.
Now we don’t know if Bazille posed Renoir or if Renoir situated himself, but what we have to infer is that it would have been exceptionally uncomfortable to sit like this for an extended period of time. And that’s friendship, folks.
Image Credit: Frédéric Bazille. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1867. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, on deposit to the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, DL 1970 3.
8 hours 5 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Fullerton Hall
Free to Illinois residents or with museum admission
Brazilian artist and scholar Andreas Valentin recalls his time in New York City with artist Hélio Oiticica and screens a series of short films the two produced in collaboration.
*Museum admission is free for Illinois residents every Thursday, 5:00–8:00—including during this event.
8 hours 30 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—Rodney McMillian: a great society
a great society represents artist Rodney McMillian's work in video over the last decade. Grappling with the complexities of class, race, and place in America, McMillian employs elements of performance, public speaking, oral history—and his interest in the science fiction genre—to expose the social and psychological consequences of economic inequality, endemic racism, and the failed promise of freedom and prosperity for all of its citizens. While McMillian's work engages the often stark realities of history and contemporary culture, it is motivated by the potential for alternative realities and future transformation.
Closing March 26—http://bit.ly/2l5Ja6e
13 hours 12 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—John Massey: Cartón de Venezuela
One of Chicago’s great design stories emerged from the Container Corporation of America (CCA) in the middle of the 20th century. Upon his appointment in 1964 as the CCA's head of design, Chicagoan John Massey formed a research arm, the Center for Advanced Research in Design (CARD), that enabled great creativity and innovation within a corporate structure.
This exhibition features a set of posters by Massey for the CCA’s subsidiary Cartón de Venezuela. Each poster represents a different month of the year, with strong, clean lines and bold colors reflecting one of Massey’s primary influences, the Swiss school of design.
Closing March 5—http://bit.ly/2lYlz6I