Social Roles / Political Responsibilities: Jean Renoir's Search for Artistic Integrity, 1928-1939

Charles Musser


Throughout his life, Jean Renoir-the son of a renowned painter, a onetime potter, and filmmaker -was preoccupied with the role of the artist in society. What was the artist's place in, and his/her responsibilities to, the world (but particularly to France)? Under what conditions could an artist function and do meaningful work-not only meaningful for society but for him/herself? These were ethical, moral, and political questions with which Renoir wrestled, finding no easy answers, no simple verities. Rather he was often troubled by the relationship between artist and society which he understood as a dynamic one in need of constant reconsideration.

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