Look at Renoir and Get Ready to Dance

The attempt at writing my blog post this month has had some starts and stops.  A theme seems to have been developing that centers around our lives during 2020 Covid pandemic.  So much has been offered as recollections and reflections, like occupying thoughts while staring out of a window between points of excitement or interest. I imagine a room where there is a dance, and the music plays to a tired audience.  Let us pick up the beat and get ready to dance!

A Shift in the Rhythm

Spring has arrived and there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.  An exuberance is developing towards an era that may become known as post-Covid.  Perhaps we can all feel the tendency to perk up in our chairs a little and detect a shift in the rhythm.  I see and hear on my own social-media and email, announcements for museum and gallery re-openings.  When that fully occurs, it will be like hearing a familiar song for the first time.  It reminds me how much can be taken for granted. Often the specialness of something re-appears at the thought of never having it again.

Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette by Pierre Auguste Renoir, d. 1876

What will it be like to “return to normal”?  Much has been discussed about “normal” and “returning” to it.  Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, and perhaps re-invention.  I look at this painting, Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette by Renoir now housed at the Muse’e d’Orsey and I see what everyone sees.  People dancing and gathering.  How does this make us feel, looking at it now in the year 2021?  The painting, is both timeless and current, couldn’t we say?

Insight on the Joy of Being Together

How much of this scene is familiar or desirable? Plenty in my mind.  After having been “socially-distancing” myself for so-long, I see this painting less as a work of historical sentiment but rather an artistic statement of truth.  The truth is that people need each other. We have invented many ways to express our joy of being together.  Here we see a scene of dancing and relaxing in conversation with one another.  The efforts we make to organize and attend these gatherings is a community effort making the point even clearer.  Then, to further emphasize, the artist points his brush at recording it and gives it back to us.  But, not as a photograph would record the scene. 

Here, the artist uses the brush as the writer would her words.   This is not a painting of a dance, but a painting of joyous human interaction.  See that after assessing the compositional weight of the painting (towards the darks in lower right balanced by the dancing couple bathed in light) we are drawn into the painting as if the surface dissolves and we are there, in it.  I can imagine the woman speaking, probably in French, while the noise of music and chat fill the air.  A man is there, daydreaming while leaning on the tree.  I might think of him as the center-point for the entire conception of the scene, contemplating all that I am writing about now.  Even that notion transcends time and illustrates even more how this painting repeats its observation in the here and now.

Hit the Floor and Get Ready to Dance

The knowledge that I can once again be in front of works like this and others has given me chills of excitement and a pause.  Perhaps, I will no longer take the moment of entering a museum (or any place) for granted.  Enjoying an outdoor patio or indoor café or to share a table and conversation with people I just met will be a familiar experience, but one I may feel like I will be having for the first time.  The music of life has changed its beat. My toes are starting to tap, my shoulders are starting to move, it is soon time to “hit the floor” and shake my booty.  Let’s get ready to dance together. I cannot wait to join in again and share with you there in joy.

2 Replies to “Look at Renoir and Get Ready to Dance”

  1. Enjoyable read and very appropriate to our “Coming Out,” so to say. I also wonder whether we will be able to more rightly appreciate what has been “on hold” this past year, as we regain our autonomy and are able to enter venues, eat inside restaurants and wander near crowds. Those things most taken for granted could become very precious, if we are mindful of this past year. Great art conveys what we are missing and also what we should continue to treasure.

    1. Yes, very true. You point out one reason why I enjoy sharing the power of art in this blog, which is how art helps us understand and enjoy the value of the world around us. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.