”]A lovely friend and I were book-thrifting yesterday, when we came across a store that looked very much like a library. Silently ominous, the books ran up to the high ceilings with the thick smell of smooth pages and ink. I found a book amongst a crowd of art history and criticism, and this picture inside – one I’ve seen so many times before.
Renoir, so I hear, was a man who delighted in playing with shadows, and this is an excellent example: A pure play ground of light and dark – not to mention warmth and coolness – contesting, laughing, playing tug-of-war.
The shadows here are key, bringing the work to life. Why? I think because these shadows in this way give the piece a sort of vibration. In our world, when you get down to it, every atom is vibrating – full of energy. Science has yet to make an atom halt completely in its place. The slower the atom vibrates the cooler it gets, and the reverse is also true: the more vibration, the more warmth, energy…life!
The many blues are vital to keeping it from overheating. Imagine if those touches of orange were let loose…this piece would be on fire. Combined with the shadows that tease your eyes into darting all over the scene, an excess of warmer colors would overwhelm. Renoir directed his scene so well. He marries the light and dark, warmth and coolness, in what is timelessly regarded as a perfect match.
Perhaps the greatest good of art is it’s ability to open our eyes and beg us to re-examine our lives.
Look around you: Where do the cool and warm contest? Where are the shadows playing with the light?