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Hate Renoir? Join the club

7 October 2015

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets

It’s been a lively couple of weeks for art related protest. In Versailles, Anish Kapoor’s sculpture has been the focus of a three-way argument that takes in neo-Nazi graffiti artists, local councillors and the artist himself. In London, protestors have ‘occupied’ the British Museum and Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall to call for an end to their relationship with BP. In Moscow, we’ve seen outraged thugs attacking contemporary art for its supposedly ‘sacrilegious’ message. But the Autumn of Discontent is far from over.

On Monday, visitors to Boston’s Museum of Fine Art found their path temporarily blocked by a crowd of placard-waving indignados. So far, so humdrum. But these were no ordinary protestors. Their complaint was neither moral nor political nor environmental, and their objective at best inscrutable. Indeed, the only thing that left onlookers in no doubt were the protestors’ artistic prejudices: to wit, a shared loathing for the work of Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

We’re not iconoclasts! Renoir Just Sucks At Painting! #renoirsucksatpainting

A photo posted by Renoir Sucks At Painting (@renoir_sucks_at_painting) on

‘GOD HATES RENOIR!’, one of their placards thundered. ‘We’re not iconoclasts’, offered another, ‘Renoir just sucks at painting!’ À chacun son truc, as Rakewell is all too often forced to concede. Nevertheless the question remains: why? It appears the protest was the brainchild of one Max Geller, the man behind an Instagram account called @renoir_sucks_at_painting. A cursory look at the account, which has notched up nearly 4,500 followers and its growing apace, reveals that Geller and his fellow Renoir-haters have put together something resembling a manifesto:

‘After years of silently coping with the irredeemable treacle of Pierre-Auguste Renoir diluting the collection at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, an international grassroots network of cultural justice seekers announce their intention to march on the MFA and picket outside. It is the position of the Renoir Sucks at Painting movement that the MFA’s decision to hang Renoir paintings, considering the fact the museum has masterpieces by actually talented artist [sic.] in storage, is a curatorial failing, and amounts to an act of Aesthetic Terrorism’.

‘It really detracts from the overall experience’, added one supporter in reference to the MFA’s collection of works by the hounded Impressionist. As revolutionary war cries go, it’s hardly ‘¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!’, but a search through the history books reveals that Geller and co are in good company:

‘He has no talent at all, that boy!’, Édouard Manet allegedly said of Renoir, ‘tell him please to give up painting.’

The Museum of Fine Arts, whose new exhibition of Dutch Masters opens next week, has so far neglected to respond to the Renoir-hating protestors’ complaints.

Got a story for Rakewell? Email rakewell@apollomag.com.

The treacly #steamingpile of empty calories sends innocent museum visitor into #diabetic shock. #renoirsucksatpainting #renoir #impressionism #insulin

A photo posted by Renoir Sucks At Painting (@renoir_sucks_at_painting) on