Everyone's a critic. But these people just really, really hate Renoir.
Protesters gathered in front of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on Monday and demanded the museum remove all paintings by the French impressionist artist, who has been dead for nearly a century.
The group was armed with signs reading, "Treacle harms society! Remove all Renoir now" and "Renoir sucks!" according to the Boston Globe.
The protest was organized by Max Geller, the "self appointed (ad-hoc) spokesperson for the #RenoirSucksAtPainting grassroots movement for Cultural Justice," according to the official "Renoir Sucks At Painting" Instagram account. The account has been around for a few months, but Monday's protest, which included six of Geller's friends and a couple of strangers, was the group's first demonstration to date.
In April, Geller even launched a national petition to "Remove all of the literally awful Renoir paintings hanging in the National Gallery in Washington DC." However, the petition garnered only 15 signatures and was archived by the White House for not meeting signature requirements.
Though he and his troupe of fellow Renoir haters admitted the protest was meant to be taken more ironically than literally, the mission is somewhat earnest. His ongoing vendetta raises the question of who controls what gets featured in museums, and why.
"I would say that every painting in the Museum of Fine Arts is really beautiful," Geller told 90.9WBUR on Monday, "except the Renoir ones. … Curators lack the courage to say, ‘Hey, wait, everybody’s been wrong this whole time.’ They’re not looking at the paintings."
Museum of Fine Arts director Matthew Teitelbaum notes that Renoir has always been controversial. "Renoir was a polarizing figure in his day, as were other 19th century Impressionists, and it’s fascinating to witness the current dialogue surrounding his art," he said in a statement.
Teitelbaum added that the museum is "proud to display its great works by Renoir" and that “today’s museums play an important role in contemporary conversation and the exchange of ideas."
Max Geller did not immediately return a request for comment.
This story has been updated with comments from Matthew Teitelbaum.
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