The Guardian gathers the paintings that prove what daft philistines the ‘Renoir sucks at painting’ protesters truly are
It has happened. The gates have fallen. Artistic civilisation has collapsed. A mob has gathered outside the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, demanding that Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s paintings be removed from its walls because they “suck”. This is it, surely. The End.
Or perhaps not. Max Geller, whose Instagram account “Renoir sucks at painting” has mushroomed into a real life semi-serious protest movement against the French impressionist who died in 1919 and is a mainstay of every art museum worth its salt, has learned one rule for looking at art. You need to have opinions. In order to love some artists, you have to hate others.
Geller complains that people accept Renoir merely because his paintings are in museums. “Why do so many people think he’s good?” He is baffled by the acclaim this old French guy gets. He is right to question authority; we should not just accept a bland consensus about what constitutes great art. Hundreds of years of critical evolution – the paring out of fakes and forgeries, the definition of the canon – have created a pantheon of top artists that museums often present as unquestionable. But in real life, to engage with art is to be passionately selective. In the words of Shakespeare, as quoted by the critic Robert Hughes: “Nothing if not critical”. TS Eliot similarly observed that it would be very boring to talk about poetry with someone who liked all poetry. Dislike is the root of true enjoyment.