An exhibition featuring artworks by Alexandre Renoir and his ancestor, renowned French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, is currently running at the Tennessee State Museum.

The exhibit, entitled Strokes of Genius: The Works of Pierre-Auguste & Alexandre Renoir —Art from Private Collections will include not only Alexandre Renoir’s work, and that of his great-grandfather, but seldom seen artwork from the private collections of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and friends. This includes Impressionist work from the great artists of that period — Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Jean-Fran Raffaelli.

Alexandre will return to Nashville on June 6, where he will be on hand for the final weekend of the Strokes of Genius exhibition, and a walking tour for museum visitors, as well as a workshop for children.

Selected works of the exhibit and works of Alexandre Renoir will be offered for purchase in a private offering on the evening of June 7, and afternoon of June 8.

Born in 1974 in Cagnes Sur Mer in the south of France, Alexandre Renoir and his family moved to Canada when he was four. He grew up surrounded by masterful art and creative artists. Alexandre Renoir’s works on paper and canvas are created with the same sense of ease and grace, which are reminiscent of the beauty and charm of his great-grandfather’s Impressionistic work.

Artistic from a young age, Alexandre attended various arts-oriented schools. In addition to his formal education, he also took classes at the Alberta Museum on Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, where he garnered experience in sculpture, pottery, woodworking, stone carving, photography and painting.

Although he was immersed in the arts and culture of his environment, Alexandre remained primarily an onlooker until his drawing abilities were tapped by his brother Emmanuel. During a visit to California, Emmanuel gave Alexandre some drawing paper and challenged him to draw with charcoal. The results were impressive, delighting both Alexandre and his brother.

From the first sheet, Alexandre could naturally draw in a variety of styles; his charcoal drawings exhibit a fluid sense often seen in works of the impressionism period. Alexandre’s paintings and drawings can be found in private collections in numerous cities throughout Canada including Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. Viewers can detect Alexandre’s great-grandfather’s artistic essence and techniques in the works he is creating today, which are augmented with his own original flair.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Alexandre’s great-grandfather, is perhaps the best-loved of all the Impressionists, because his subjects — angelic children, gorgeous flowers, beautiful scenes, and lovely women — have universal appeal, which he rendered with directness and joy. “Why shouldn't art be pretty?” he said, “There are enough unpleasant things in the world.” As homage to his ancestor, Strokes of Genius will include several seldom seen works from the hand of this great French master.

In transferring their artistic theories to the lithographic stone or metal etching plate, artists such as Renoir, Pissarro, Cassatt, and Manet attempted to recreate the spontaneity and subtlety of their paintings with the aim of reaching a wider audience. Along with this endeavor came a period of brilliant experimentation that resulted in never before used techniques creating a more painterly print. Influenced by the past titans of etching, such as Rembrandt and Goya, the Impressionist artists gained a new spirit of freedom in the world of printmaking and elevated these works on paper to a higher art form.

Lithographs, sketches and prints from Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, and Jean-Fran Raffaelli, on loan from private collections, will complement this visually stimulating exhibit. Strokes of Genius: The Works of Pierre-Auguste & Alexandre Renoir —Art from Private Collections will offer visitors a glimpse at the Impressionist movement, as characterized by an artist’s ability to render a fleeting moment in time, creating candid compositions, and capturing an ‘impression’ of the ever-changing effects of light and atmospheric conditions. The exhibition opened to the public on April 15, and will continue through June 8.

The Tennessee State Museum is located at Fifth and Deaderick Streets in downtown Nashville. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The museum, which is closed on Mondays, is free to the public. For more information please visit: www.tnmuseum.org

About the Tennessee State Museum

In 1937 the Tennessee General Assembly created a state museum to house World War I mementos and other collections from the state, the Tennessee Historical Society and other groups. This museum was located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building until it was moved into the new James K. Polk Center in 1981. The Tennessee State Museum currently occupies three floors, covering approximately 120,000 square feet with more than 60,000 square feet devoted to exhibits.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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