Sunday, July 14, 2013

Monet on a Sunday

It's back to work to me tomorrow after a week off during school break. I have a relatively easy lead in with only half a normal week coming up as some schools start their chess programs in week 2 of term. Anyway, today was my last day off and I was blessed to share the day off with my wife, Caroline, so we decided to head to the National Gallery of Victoria to check out the Monet's Garden exhibition. I have seen some work of the Impressionist in Paris and New York, but never this much in one place. To have an exhibition devoted to just Monet, his life and work, was amazing. There was familiar work, but some stuff which I didn't know about and that really impressed me.
Springtime Through the Branches (courtesy Claude Monet Gallery)

This painting of the Clichy region of Paris appealed to me in it's composition (and as a chess player who has played at the annual Clichy Open, it took me back to the time I was there). In fact, the philosophy of Monet seems to be for the artist to provide an experience for the audience, and his paintings are images of light and movement. Looking at the image above, the trees in the foreground aren't still, and Monet's beautiful brush work helps us to feel the breeze that he obviously felt while painting this scene.

Monet is best known for the paintings of his gardens at Giverny, the Japanese Bridge and the water lillies series. Seeing so many of these in the exhibition gave us a great feel for this amazing garden, and the final room had a fantastic wraparound film of the last day of the season of his garden. Seeing the house with its distinctive green shutters, the overhanging archway for his rose garden, the lake with lillies and bridge, gave the exhibition and Monet's paintings of his garden a context, and gave us, the audience, a chance to see his inspiration.

The vibrant reflections that make the lake and water lillies so wonderful, and the use of light and texture were major themes of the exhibition. Earlier in his life, Monet spent time in London which he loved because of the fog: ‘I love London much more than the English countryside; yes I adore London … but what I love more than anything is the fog’

Reflections on the Thames (courtesy of
The whole experience took no more than a couple of hours, and seeing so many of these masterpieces, and finding out about Monet's life was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I feel I have a better understanding of Impressionist art, and have even looked online at some of his contemporaries, friends, and influences. So not only did the exhibition provide pleasure and information but also, for me at least. inspiration to look more into art as a whole, a subject I've paid little attention to over the years.

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