Madness and painting… Renoir about Van Gogh, Cézanne and Jules II


Jean Renoir, the famous film director, son of the not less famous impressionist painter Renoir (Pierre-Auguste) reported a conversation he had with his father about Van Gogh, mainly… I’ll try to translate it (you cannot trust Babelfish, these days!) for you:

…” my father suggested that the death of Van Gogh was “not a very flattering event. Not even père Durand (*Ruel, the art dealer) could understand a thing!” This indifference toward such a brilliant genius was, in my father’s opinion, the condamnation of “this century of garrulous people”. I ask him what did he make of Van Gogh’s madness. His answer was that in order to paint you have to be a bit crazy. “If Van Gogh was crazy, I am too… As for Cézanne, well, he’s raving mad!…” And he added: “The Pope Jules II must have been also mad. That’s why he understood so well (Michelangelo’s) paintings!”

page 305, “Van Gogh, Un peintre, une vie, une oeuvre” by Susan Alyson Stein, Édition Maxi-Livres, 2004

Does this really needs any comments? For me, personally, it confirms something I knew since a long time ago and also it confirms that Renoir (senior) wasn’t only a superb painter but also an original and wise man…

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Jean Renoir, le fameux réalisateur de films, se souviens une conversation qu’il a eu avec son père, le célèbre peintre impressionniste Pierre-Auguste Renoir:

    …”mon père fit allusion à la mort de Van Gogh, “un événement pas très flatteur. Même le père Durand (*Ruel, le marchand d’art) n’y avait rien compris!” Cette indifférence à l’égard d’un génie éclatant était pour lui la condamnation de “ce siècle de bavards”. Je lui demandai s’il croyait à la folie de Van Gogh. Sa réponse fut que pour faire de la peinture il faut être un peu fou. “Si Van gogh est fou, je le suis aussi. Et quant à Cézanne c’est la camisole de force!…” Il ajouta: “Le pape Jules II aussi devait être fou. C’est pour cela qu’il comprenait si bien la peinture!”

         page 305, “Van Gogh, Un peintre, une vie, une oeuvre”  Susan Alyson Stein, Édition Maxi-Livres, 2004

Je ne crois pas que ça nécessite vraiment des commentaires… Pour moi, personnellement, ses paroles confirment une croyance que j’ai depuis longtemps et ça confirme aussi la bonne opinion que j’ai de Renoir, ce superbe peintre et, en plus, un homme sage et original…

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3 responses to “Madness and painting… Renoir about Van Gogh, Cézanne and Jules II

  1. Yes, maybe, but only artists make so much of this madness idea. You know, there is the fact on the one hand, and on the other there is what is made of it. These do not mean the same.

  2. I agree, generally… But you have to recognise (?) that people – in general – like their artists a bit crazy (not crazy enough to bite them!) ( I hope it’s not the wrong “their” again!) Un peu comme le bouffon du roi… And it’s also true that you have to be a bit loco to be an artists, a profession where, if you are honest and not commercially inclined, there are a lot o chances you’ll be poor …

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