Haute Art: Cool off with Renoir at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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If the record-breaking temps haven’t inspired you to search out some great indoor summer activities, perhaps the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s latest special exhibition will.

“Late Renoir” proves that some things really do get better with age. Perhaps he was high on his recent fame, perhaps he figured he’d go out with style, but French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s late works are considered some of his best.

In the final stage of his career, Renoir created works that were rich and romantic. Think deep colors, fanciful subjects and an air of both freedom and sophistication. The result is works that are classical, but upon closer inspection have a stroke of impressionism. His final pieces are especially impressive as the wheelchair-bound Renoir’s chronic arthritis doesn’t seem to have affected his precision.

The museum is displaying the 80-odd paintings, sketches and sculptures along side pieces by his younger contemporaries like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, showing how Renoir’s attitude influenced other up-and-coming artists. The space is airy and light, allowing groups to flow freely through the rooms and enjoy groupings from various angles.

Be sure to stop and appreciate “Tambourine Dancer I,” a relief sculpture in bronze that exudes the spirit of ancient Greece, and “Girl with the Red Ruff,” full of brightness and a bit of flair.

The collection continues in its final stop of Philadelphia — the show also made stops at the Grand Palais in Paris and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — through Sept. 6. Separate tickets are required for the exhibit. Visit the museum at www.philamuseum.org for more information.

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