Saturday, September 12, 2015

Discovering the Impressionists of Paul Durand-Ruel

Yesterday, I went up to Philadelphia Museum of Art with my friend, Eileen.  We went to see the special show that is there on the Impressionists.  I can't tell you how beautiful this show was.  It's a MUST SEE.  But the story behind the show is even more compelling.  It all starts with an art dealer named Paul Durand-Ruel, an art dealer in Paris beginning in the 1870's.  He saw the work of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Manet, Pissaro , an although they were untested artists,  he loved what he saw.  The critics at the time absolutely hated their art.  But Paul Durand-Ruel believed in them.  He bought their art work and turned around and sold it for double what he paid.  He promoted them and introduced their new style of painting to the public.  He moved the Impressionists from the margins of being unknown to international fame.  He built an audience that also grew to love their work, and many of them were Americans.  It's probably why the American art museums have so many of the impressionists' paintings.  I doubt we would even know who Renoir or Monet was if it hadn't been for Paul Durand-Ruel.  He was a visionary.

It made me realize that most artists, no matter how good they are, may not ever be "discovered" because they are not promoted.  I know lots of great artists, but like me, they just paint and paint and enjoy the process and the occasional sale.  Artists paint because they love the process:  the formation of an idea, the designing of the composition, the putting on of the paint, the adjustments and readjustments to make the painting the way you envision until the piece reaches  it's final conclusion. Some pieces turn out better than others.  Some of them seem to paint themselves and others you really have to struggle with.  But it comes from a love of the process that you just can't quit.
A Series of Dancers by Renoir
The Ballet Class by Degas

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