September 11, 2009

Water Lilies Live!

Here's Charlie Finch (sitting on a lily pad?) at the Monet preview last week (Courtesy NY Sun Out and About blog)

For the first time since the MoMA expansion, Claude Monet's water lily paintings will be on view. I remember the huge exhibition (80 pieces) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1998 that included paintings of his gardens at Giverny, with a concentration on the Japanese Bridge paintings of 1900, views of London (1900 - 1904) and Venice (1908), a partial recreation of his Water Lily exhibition of 1909, views of the water-lily pond from 1914 - 1918, and some of the enormous water lily murals painted between 1919 -1926. Up close and in person, Monet's paintings are fleshy, painterly, eye-popping extravaganzas. The plethora of reproductions may make Monet's work seem conservative and trite, but painters should make a trip to see this show.

In the NY Times, Roberta Smith reports that "Monet was simply following his early work to its logical conclusion, giving little or no thought to abstraction. Right to the end he remained engrossed in the challenge of looking and painting, painting and looking, never wavering in his dedication to the task of translating his perception of the visible world into oil on canvas, bringing the natural and the artificial into hand-wrought balance. Perhaps he knew that painting, like poetry or music, was one of the few human endeavors that stood any chance of equaling some of nature’s experiential richness, if you just kept at it long enough." Read more.

"Monet's Water Lilies," organized by Ann Temkin. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Through April 12.

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