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Il faut cultiver notre jardin!

 
 

Monet's Water Lilies

   

 

  

A garden blooms inside MoMA -- a room filed with all of Monet's late paintings from the Water Lily collection.  It is perhaps the perfect show to take in now, a time for quiet reflection in the midst of all the hullabaloo of the new fall season.  If one works in midtown, take a short afternoon break for a serene walk in Giverny….

 

Monet created his famous paintings of water lilies in the isolated serenity of his garden in Giverny, in the picturesque Eure region of Normandy.  Using the pond in his garden as inspiration, he attempted to give 'the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon or bank,' a limitless world of light and color, of dappled beauty.  Monet painted over 250 paintings of these flowers, each one a variation on this botanical theme.  They are a study in persistence, a validation of the perfectionist impulse, reworking the same theme or idea as if to uncover some great secret, a progression towards some ideal.

 

The paintings, oil on canvas, include a mural-sized triptych (Water Lilies, 1914-26) which is all pure color and sensation: sensuous greens, blues, yellows, creamy oranges, and violets.  Monet's deliberate blurred brushstrokes paint a colorful mist where sky, air, water seem to merge.  Monet's Water Lilies border on abstraction, all layering of color with subtle sophistication, shades of Bonnard: light is reflected from both above and below, flowers are depicted as sensory color.  Prism-like, these paintings deflect, reflect, and refract both light and color.  

 

Monet is known as a leading exponent of Impressionism, a movement whose name is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (1872).  From his haven at Giverny, Monet created a water lily-world of his own.  Clement Greenberg avers: "It used to be maintained that Monet had outlived himself, that by the time he died in 1926 he was an anachronism.  But right now, any one of the Water Lilies seems to belong more to our time, and its future…." 

 

See: Monet's Water Lilies, at MoMA 

 

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