Renoir and Social Networks

Bal du moulin de la Galette

Renoir painting Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881.

Renoir is known for intimate and candid subjects but I want to point out attention networks in his paintings. In the luncheon above you can see “directed” ties in the attention network. I suppose I should call it the “gaze-network”.  🙂 People give attention but receive attention from another.

Directed and Undirected Networks: A tie in a network can have direction. A restaurant server sells you food but you don’t sell to them so your tie with the server is directed (in one direction). On the other hand in social where there is conversation, it could be in both directions. You are talking to somebody and they are talking to you too. This is an undirected tie. Wiki: Directed Graph means the same thing.

These paintings don’t represent a moment in time like a photograph but I believe Renoir is showing this directed network to make the scene seem more open and appealing to the viewer. The viewer can visualize themselves in the party since it appears non-cliquey and open. There are clusters like in any network of people but it’s easy to imagine people being welcome and not showing friction to new people in the network.

A slightly older work  Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876 also reveals a directed network.

In this case the line of attention isn’t so linear. I’m supposing because the work shows more space and more people.

When you socialize do you tend to remain in a closed cluster or do you like openness? Do you connect clusters together? Have you ever blocked social openness? Have you ever approached a group and they showed you their backs? Are you aware of others around you that are outside of your immediate group? Do you value people even if you don’t know them?

Many people’s self assessment of their openness is inaccurate. Can you comment below with examples from a recent social?




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