My artist friend Chuck and I hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art today and took in the “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” exhibit along with the Matisse that’s been up a while. We were in a dabbling and flitting mood, not getting overly studious about any of it.

We spent a lot of time staring at the Renoir pieces, particularly this one called “The Swing”:

We kept marveling at how the people in his paintings seemed right there with us. One after another. Extraordinary.

I was also very struck by the melodic copy next to “The Swing”:

Renoir transformed his backyard into the setting for a modern-day fete galante. He recruited local talent — Jeanne, a model from Montmarte; his brother; and and artist friend — for this scene painted en plein air in which a coy Parisienne, sheathed in beribboned “princess-style” dress, demurs the attention of a straw-hatted suitor. But Renoir’s efforts to describe the dappled sunlight shining onto the figures through the canopy of leaves proved “dizzying” rather than dazzling. Instead of hailing the work as a triumph, critics deemed the effort “Impressionist hail.”

Wow, tough crowd.