Linnea in Monet’s Garden

Nympheas, 1907

Of course you have heard the hype and of course you like Monet, so if you haven’t heeded the call to go see Monet’s Late Work on view at Gagosian’s 21st street location, yet let me repeat them all and say: Go now. It’s cheaper than a museum (free) and shows works that museums rarely do (privately-owned). This being one of my first art excursions upon being back in New York, I was more than a little gleeful to find myself surronded by these late, great works. They are strangely wild, more so than you might give “pretty” Monet credit for. And the colors!
The colors almost beg you to paint, even if you should be someone like me: more of an enthusiast than an artist. From a distance all seems serene, giving an impression of reality. Up close, things in the pictures fall apart and you become filled with wonder at a surface that contains so many contradictions.
At least that was the joyful effect it had on me, reminding me as it did of Linnea in Monet’s Garden.There are few Linneas in the US and certainly very few in Georgia where I grew up so as a child, which is why I was given a copy of this book about once a year in honor of my name. However my trips to Paris have unfortunately been when the Orangerie hosting Monet’s circular water lily series was closed. Here I was finally in Monet’s garden.

L’Allee de Rosiers, 1920-1922

While I have been to the real garden of Monet in Giverny, it’s beauty doesn’t compare with the artist’s work. Somehow in the process of seeing and painting the same sights for so many years, Monet arrived a point in his later years when his paintings were so patently not about the object itself but about his experience with them, his experience with the paint, his desire for the right color, that he no more heeded his eyes than he did contemporary painting styles. He painted, as it were, from the heart, from years of experience, and with great love. It is a beautiful thing to see.

7 thoughts on “Linnea in Monet’s Garden

  1. There was a fascinating article a while back that suggested that Monet’s late style had more to do with the advanced state of his cataracts.

    The romantic in me said “No!” but it’s an interesting idea.

  2. A show just closed in Madrid called ‘Monet and Abstraction’ at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

    As the name suggests, the show highlights the abstract nature of some of Monet’s later works and how some of the leaders of the abstract expressionist movement drew on him for inspiration. The show’s premise is that much of this work by Monet was totally forgotten until artists like Ellsworth Kelly made pilgrimages to Giverny (not then the tourist attraction it has become). Some of the abstract artists represented in the show in addition to Kelly are Rothko, Pollock (with some great juxtapositions with Monet’s ‘all-over’ paint styles), Gerhard Richter, de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Sam Francis, Cy Twombly.

    For a virtual tour of the show click here and for the general description here. They are in English.

    The links should work, but in case they don’t, they are:

    There is also a video (in Spanish):

  3. No Beth, that’s Monets talent.

    I have heard the theory about cataracts, and I think his deteriorating vision had to have had an impact on his painting, but that hardly fully explains his work.

    Lorenzo, that is the point a good friend has been making to me since the exhibition opened! I can certainly see the connection, but I didn’t know they artists themselves had a hand in drawing it. Very interesting–do we always seek out our precursors I wonder?

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