The Renoirs have arrived in Northport.

The name comes with certain expectations. So it’s not surprising that succeeding Renoir generations expressed their artistry through other media. Jean, middle son of Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was a legendary film director. Older brother Pierre was an actor while kid brother Claude created ceramics. Grandson Claude Jr. was a cinematographer. His daughter Sophie is an actress.

Alexandre Renoir is the first in the family to paint professionally since his great-grandfather, whose art celebrated beauty. Recent works of Alexandre, along with paintings, drawings and prints by great-grandpa and contemporaries Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Pissarro compose the “Renoir and the Masters: Visions of Impressionism” show at Northport’s LaMantia Fine Art Gallery. Alexandre, born in France in 1974 and now residing in Southern California, will speak at the gallery during receptions Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. Admission is free, but RSVP for receptions.

All 82 artworks are for sale — $2,500 to $125,000 a pop.


We spoke to Alexandre by phone as his art was being shipped to Long Island. Of his immortal surname, he says, “It opens doors, but if you don’t put something through, it closes fast. It was almost taboo in the family to be a painter because Auguste was the holy ancestor.” That explains why Alexandre didn’t “jump in with both feet” as a painter until age 29. And he did it his way — not his great-grandfather’s. “I paint with a palette knife,” he says. “It’s like sculpting a painting. I think paintings that cast their own shadows are wonderful. But my great-grandfather used to say that the only thing a palette knife is good for is for cleaning the palette.”

Maybe that’s why Alexandre chose another medium when paying homage by re-imagining one of his ancestor’s most famous paintings, “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” Lithography is an arduous printmaking process in which the artist paints a reverse image with grease on a wet stone, folding his arm behind his back to avoid touching the stone while arched over it. “I never felt more connected to him because I know there’s no way his calves hurt more than mine,” Alexandre says.

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The painting, now in Washington D.C.’s Phillips Collection, depicts Renoir’s friends sharing food, wine and conversation on a balcony overlooking the Seine. It’s said that Renoir, answering suggestions by fellow Impressionists Manet and Monet that his paintings needed more black, responded: “There are enough dark and ugly things in the world. I am not going to add any more.”

James LaMantia, founding owner of his gallery since 1989, says he landed the show “because people in the art world know that Long Islanders appreciate fine art.” Among LaMantia’s other big-name shows was one by Peter Max in June and next month’s Dr. Seuss. “Seeing their work in a museum is one thing,” LaMantia says. “Here, you can take it home with you.”