Light on Water: Monet at MoMA

Monets are pretty. I’m sure those who go to see MoMA’s small exhibition devoted to his water lilies series will agree. You might go on to say he anticipates abstract expressionism, that he left his canvasses radically unfinished, etc. All good points, ones that this exhibition will remind you of. Roberta Smith in her NYTimes article also informs you that he was influenced by Japanese screens. I like Monet’s Water Lilies, BUT

perhaps because they are so iconic
or perhaps because they’re just so pretty
[insert shoulder shrug] they don’t excite me.

I am mildly interested looking at them. I like to trace the bare canvas at the edges and notice how he layered color. I was pleased the colors in my Labor day photos and his paintings tied in nicely. But Monet hardly demands a strong reaction–he’s a more contemplative sort. The kind who was entranced by watching sunsets. And that’s fair enough.

Light on water is quite pretty.

4 thoughts on “Light on Water: Monet at MoMA

  1. When I visited Monet’s garden at his house in France, I could hardly believe my eyes b/c his garden looked exactly like all of the paintings…the scenes are all reality. I did take photographs, however, not digital for it was many years ago. It was pure, those gardens and bridges, lilly ponds too! Looked like an impressionist painting :). GO as soon as you get a chance and see for yourself. It’s hard to believe that those paintings are realistic, just painted in a loose style not from his imagination at all… innocence lost!

  2. Aw, ArtChick got here before me 🙂

    I’ve also been to Monet’s garden and, as she says, it looks just like the damn paintings! It’s a beautiful garden.

    But I don’t think anyone can take away his genius at mixing and layering colours. Or the sheer size of some of his work — I remember seeing a huge one in London… it was awe-inspiring. I like those paintings where you actually have to walk along, and then backwards, to take it all in.

    ‘Too pretty’… hah!

  3. I’ve been to Giverny and it’s beautiful. Not just the gardens but the whole house is saturated with color.

    But yeah, I’m not in love with his very good, very pretty work.

  4. I’ve also been to Giverny and I was like a kid in a candy store! Personally, Monet is one of my favortie artists, by far my favorite Impressionist, and while seeing the gardens in person made it clear to me that these images weren’t purely out of his imagination, that’s okay by me. I never thought they were. He took what he saw in reality and poured out a skilled vision of it. He did something special with the reality anyone could see–as Sebastian points out, with mixing and layering color, and with his handling of light (i.e. his Gare Saint-Lazare series of paintings).

    So, I’m still stoked to check out the MOMA exhibit! 🙂

    -Danielle, “Reading Between the Lines”

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